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 a 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. If you need treatment, it should happen within two weeks of diagnosis. You should not be sent to your GP as 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!

Diagnosing other macular conditions

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.

Other macular conditions, including macular dystrophies, are diagnosed differently.

Have you got more questions about how macular disease is diagnosed?

Contact the Macular Society Helpline on 0300 3030 111 or help@macularsociety.org

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How is macular disease diagnosed? link arrow

Various tests can be taken to detect early signs of macular degeneration.

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What to do after diagnosis link arrow

When you are diagnosed with a sight loss condition, it can be overwhelming and you might not know what to do first. We are here to guide you with what to do after receiving a diagnosis and to help you get any support you may need.

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Read about what treatments are available for patients with macular conditions.

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Who’s who in eye care link arrow

The health care system can be difficult to navigate and you might not know who to speak to, to get the right help. This page details the different roles of people you’ll encounter, and who can help.

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Free confidential advice and support

Call our helpline on 0300 3030 111

Lines are open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday

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