Many people do not realize they have a macular problem until they notice they have blurred or distorted vision. Regular eye exams by an ophthalmologist may help to detect problems or early stages of macular degeneration before you are even aware of them.
Dry macular degeneration: detection with an ophthalmoscope
To check for macular degeneration, your eye doctor will dilate (widen) your pupils using eyedrops and examine your eyes with an ophthalmoscope, a device that allows him or her to see the retina and other areas at the back of the eye. If macular degeneration is detected, your doctor may have you use an Amsler grid to check for macular degeneration symptoms such as wavy, blurry or dark areas in your vision.
Wet macular degeneration: detection with fluorescein angiography and optical coherence tomography
If your ophthalmologist suspects you may have the wet form of macular degeneration, he or she will take special photographs of your eye with fluorescein angiography and optical coherence tomography (OCT). OCT scanning is a sophisticated and exact tool that detects abnormal blood vessels by creating a special picture of your macula.
During fluorescein angiography, a fluorescein dye is injected into a vein in your arm. The dye travels throughout the body, including your eyes. Photographs are taken of your eye as the dye passes through the retinal blood vessels. Abnormal areas will be highlighted by the dye, showing your doctor whether wet macular degeneration treatment is possible and, if so, where to treat the abnormal vessels.
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