The macular is an important part of the retina (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye). It is the area that we use to see small detail, such as words on a page, images on the television and facial features. Macular degeneration is a painless condition that affects the macular, which causes a loss of central vision.
An individual with macular degeneration would find it hard to read, recognise people and drive. As the area surrounding the macular is unaffected by macular degeneration then peripheral vision remains clear meaning that it is still possible to move around quite freely.
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the most common form of macular degeneration. There are two types of ARMD usually referred to as ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. Dry ARMD develops very gradually over a period of time spanning years whereas wet ARMD progresses much more rapidly. Wet ARMD results in a build-up of fluid under the retina and can result in a more sudden and severe loss of vision.
Macular degeneration is more likely to occur as you get older, however there are some rare forms that affect younger people. It is more common in females and smokers, and it is thought to be in part genetic. Approximately 90% of the cases are Dry ARMD and 10% are Wet ARMD.

Fundus of patient with macular degeneration

(Amsler chart)

The Amsler chart is designed to detect small changes in the centre of vision which can be an early sign of macular degeneration. The Amsler chart provides a quick way of checking for any distortion or loss of sensitivity in the centre of your vision.
  1. Hold the Amsler chart 30 cm away from your face.
  2. If you have reading problem, please wear your reading glasses for the test.
  3. Cover your left eye. Look directly at the center dot with your right eye.
  4. If any part of the grid looks wavy, blurred, dark or missing, you should contact your eye care professional at once.
  5. Repeat the above procedures to check your left eye.
ARMD patients should use the chart at least once a week. If you notice any new distortion or any change in the appearance of the grid you should arrange to see your eye care professional as soon as possible.