Diagnosing AMD

The optometrist at your local optician’s practice can test sight, prescribe glasses and check for eye disease. Some optometrists use photography or other imaging to detect early signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These might include Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scans which create cross-sectional images of the retina. You may be charged for these tests.

There is currently no treatment available for dry AMD so you might not be referred to hospital, unless confirmation of the diagnosis is required or the optometrist thinks you need a hospital low vision service. If your sight has worsened and you would like to be registered as sight impaired you will need a hospital appointment.

If your optometrist suspects you have wet AMD you should be referred to a retinal specialist at a hospital directly and seen within one to two weeks and if applicable be treated within two weeks after initial identification. You should not be sent to your GP. This causes unnecessary delay. 

At hospital further tests will confirm the diagnosis. The specialist may use:

  • Eye drops to dilate the pupils to see the back of the eye clearly. These may make your vision blurred and sensitive to light for a short time so consider taking someone with you.
  • OCT scans. 
  • Fluorescein dye angiography. A dye injected into a vein in the arm travels to the eye, highlighting the blood vessels in the retina so they can be photographed. The dye will temporarily change the colour of your urine, so be prepared!

Download Your guide to age-related macular degeneration.