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Age-related macular degeneration

This is a condition affecting the back of the eye (retina) and may represent a risk to your vision.

The first symptom of AMD is often a blurred or distorted area in your vision. If you notice any new distortion that you were not aware of, you should see your optician immediately.

Amsler grid

You can easily check your vision for distortion. We advise that you do this at least once a month, but ideally once a week. You can do this using an Amsler grid. This is a grid of straight lines on a piece of paper which you can get from your optician. Ideally you should do this with the guidance of your own optician the first time you do this.

How to use the Amsler Grid:

  • cover one eye and use the other eye to look at the grid
  • look at the central dot and keep your vision fixed on that spot
  • use your edge vision to see if the lines are straight
  • repeat for the other eye
  • if the lines are bent or distorted you should ask your optician for an urgent assessment

People with normal vision see straight lines, and there are no areas of missing squares. People who see distortion and missing squares are likely to have AMD.

Some patients with early AMD will notice small areas of bent lines. This might not be treatable, but your optician will advise you to go back to see them urgently if you notice the distortion worsening, or more squares are missing.

Your optician will able to perform an eye examination to look for bleeding, and they might be able to perform a special retinal scan called an OCT scan. This will determine what type of AMD you have. Treatment depends on the type of AMD you have.

Dry AMD – there's no treatment, but vision aids can help reduce the impact on your life.

Wet AMD – you may need regular eye injections to stop your vision getting worse. Early detection of wet AMD improves the efficacy of the treatment. This is why it is important to check your vison for distortion regularly and seek urgent advice if you notice a change.

Please ask your optician about how to check for distortion using an amsler grid and to consider the benefits of vitamin supplements (eg. AREDS). Early detection of visual distortion permits early intervention which may reduce your risk of sight-loss.  If you notice any visual symptoms (eg. distortion of straight lines) please seek help urgently from your optician.

How can NYDESP help remind me to check the Amsler Grid?

We will remind you to self-monitor your eyesight by sending you regular text messages if we have a record of your mobile phone. If you do not wish to receive these reminders please call us on 01904 726640 to opt out of the reminder service.

Useful links

Age-related macular degeneration (

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - NHS (

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