Diagnosis

Your doctor will review your medical and family history and conduct a complete eye exam. To confirm a diagnosis of macular degeneration, he or she may do several other tests, including:

  • Examination of the back of your eye. Your eye doctor will put drops in your eyes to dilate them and use a special instrument to examine the back of your eye. He or she will look for fluid or blood or a mottled appearance that's caused by drusen. People with macular degeneration often have many drusen — yellow deposits that form under the retina.
  • Test for defects in the center of your vision. During an eye exam, your eye doctor may use an Amsler grid to test for defects in your central vision. If you have macular degeneration, some of the straight lines in the grid will look faded, broken or distorted.
  • Fluorescein angiography. During this test, your doctor injects a colored dye into a vein in your arm. The dye travels to and highlights the blood vessels in your eye. A special camera takes pictures as the dye travels through the blood vessels. The images will show if you have abnormal blood vessels or retinal changes.
  • Indocyanine green angiography. Like fluorescein angiography, this test uses an injected dye. It may be used to confirm the findings of a fluorescein angiography or to identify specific types of macular degeneration.
  • Optical coherence tomography. This noninvasive imaging test displays detailed cross-sections of the retina. It identifies areas of thinning, thickening or swelling. This test is also used to help monitor how the retina responds to macular degeneration treatments.