Take the age-related macular degeneration eye test

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the UK but many people are unaware of the signs. It is especially common in those over the age of 65 and currently accounts for vision loss in 600,000 people in the UK.

What is AMD?

AMD affects your central vision, which is the vision you use when you’re looking straight ahead at something. It doesn’t affect your peripheral vision, so doesn’t cause a total loss of sight. 

The condition affects the macula, the central part of your retina — a layer of tissue at the back of your eyes, which detects light and converts this to information that is sent to your brain. AMD results in blurred or distorted vision, as well as blind spots. 

Diagnosing AMD early can help slow its progression and maintain your eyesight for longer. That’s why it’s important to test yourself for the early signs of AMD. 

Testing yourself for AMD: the Amsler Grid

The Amsler Grid is commonly used by opticians and ophthalmologists (doctors who specialise in eye health) to detect vision problems caused by damage to the macula. It can help detect AMD, as well as other eye diseases. 

It’s an easy test to perform yourself at home, particularly if you are at risk of AMD. However, it’s important to remember that self-testing should not be used instead of regular visits to the optician, as these are vital to maintaining good eye health.

If you take the test and it suggests that you have AMD or other issues with your vision, make an appointment with your optician for a complete eye exam. 

The Amsler Grid

How to use the Amsler Grid Test

The Amsler Grid test takes just a few minutes. Regular testing can help you spot potential vision issues early, which can make all the difference. 

Print a copy of the grid provided and follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the lighting in the room is what you would normally use for reading ie not too dark or too bright
  2. If you usually wear glasses for reading, whether they are prescription or off-the-shelf, make sure you’re wearing them
  3. Hold the grid around 35-40cm away from your eyes
  4. Cup your hand over one eye to allow you to test each eye separately 
  5. Focus your eye on the dot in the centre of the grid and answer these questions:
    • Do any of the lines of the grid look distorted, wavy or blurred?
    • Can you see all four corners and sides of the grid?
    • Are there any dark or missing areas?
  6. Once you have tested one eye, perform the test again on your other eye

If you notice any issues while performing the test, you should make an appointment with an optician straight away. You should also mark any areas of the test that you are not seeing properly — do this on a separate grid for each eye and mark which grid is for your left eye and which is for your right eye if you have issues with both eyes. Take these marked-up grids with you to the optician. 

You should repeat the test as often as instructed to by your optician or if you notice a change in your vision. 

How is AMD treated?

Treating AMD depends on the type you are diagnosed with. There are two types of AMD — wet and dry. 

Dry macular degeneration is the most common and is less severe. It tends to progress quite slowly and can affect one or both eyes. You may not notice it if it only affects one eye, as your other eye often compensates. This is why testing is important. 

If you are diagnosed with dry macular degeneration, a few lifestyle changes can help slow its progression, including:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting treatment for other eye conditions
  • Having an active lifestyle
  • Having regular eye tests
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking

Wet macular degeneration is less common and is caused by abnormal blood vessels leaking fluid or blood into the macula. Wet macular degeneration can cause a sudden vision change. 

It is treated by injecting drugs into the affected eye every four to six weeks. This will not cure the condition but can help slow its progression.


We hope you've found this article useful, however, it cannot be a substitute for a consultation with a specialist

If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.

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Author Information

Cahoot Care Marketing

Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.

Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.

Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.

The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:

Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager

Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.

Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor

Catriona has an English degree from the University of Southampton and more than 12 years’ experience copy editing across a range of complex topics. She works with a diverse team of writers to create clear and compelling copy to educate and inform.

Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing

Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing. He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.