What Is an Amsler Grid?

Submitted by Elman Retina Group on August 21, 2021
Testing for Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic progressive eye disease. Catching the condition early, when it is in the “dry” form, offers the best chances at preserving vision long-term. If the disease advances to the wet form, it is not as easily managed, and vision loss is more likely.

The problem is that AMD is unpredictable. If you have AMD, it may not be obvious to you that the disease is progressing and causing changes to your vision.

One of the testing tools that Elman Retina Group uses to monitor vision in AMD cases is the Amsler grid. Using this grid on a regular basis can reveal problem spots that show up in your visual field, indicating to your doctor that new or different management strategies may be appropriate.

Tips for Using an Amsler Grid

The Amsler grid is a simple grid resembling a piece of graph paper. It has a small dot in the center of the horizontal and vertical lines. In a healthy eye, the lines of the grid appear straight. In an eye with AMD, some of the lines of the grid will look blurry, curvy or distorted; sometimes areas of the grid are even blank.

To use an Amsler grid at home, sit in a well-lit area. If you wear glasses, keep them on for the test. Cover one eye and look at the dot in the center of the grid. If you have dry eyes, make sure to lubricate them with artificial tear drops before taking this test, for dry eyes can also cause similar distortion. Note whether any areas of the grid appear wavy, blurry, or blank. If they do, mark it on the chart. Then, switch eyes and repeat the test. If you noticed distorted lines or areas when looking at the grid, report your findings to your retinal specialist. This could suggest your vision has changed and you may need to start or change your AMD treatment.

When using the Amsler grid in the future, try to keep the light conditions and the distance from your eyes to the chart consistent.

Not a Substitute for Eye Exams

Generally, we recommend patients with AMD use the Amsler grid on a daily basis. But this at-home testing tool is not a substitute for comprehensive eye exams with an experienced retinal doctor. Make sure you keep current on all of your appointments, as these visits allow your doctor the chance to look inside your eyes and monitor your internal eye structures (including your macula and retina).

To request an appointment or more information from the team at Elman Retina Group, please call or email us today.