Macular Degeneration Grid

The macular degeneration grid, better known as the Amsler grid, is an eye test that helps to detect and monitor changes in your vision, particularly in individuals with macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is a condition that affects the macula, a small area in the center of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision.  It is a test that one can do from home.

grid test for macular degeneration

The Amsler grid is a simple grid pattern of straight lines with a dot in the center. Patients with macular degeneration are instructed to look at the grid regularly (one eye at a time) and note any distortion, blurriness, missing areas, or other abnormalities in the grid pattern.

Changes in the appearance of the grid can indicate progression or worsening of macular degeneration. This tool is often used at home as a self-monitoring tool between visits to an eye care professional. It can help detect changes early, allowing for prompt intervention to preserve vision as much as possible.

According to Joshua Dunaief, MD, PhD of Sheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania, "If an eye with wet AMD goes untreated for a few months or longer, it can begin to develop retinal scarring.  This scarring can lead to irreversible vision loss in parts of the visual field..."

Amsler Grid

This macular degeneration test is for you to use at home to monitor any vision changes. By looking at the Amsler grid, with one eye, you can check to see if there is any changes in the way you see the grid.

distorted macular degeneration grid

Some of the things you would look for are:

√ Wavy Lines, crooked or distorted lines

√ Dark Spots or holes on the grid

√ Blurriness

By noticing any changes in how the grid appears, you may be able to detect any new blood vessel growth in the macula lutea. Early detection of leaking blood vessels will allow your physician to provide earlier treatment. For treatment to be effective, earlier detection of wet macular degeneration is critical.

Patients who have the dry form of macular degeneration should regularly check their vision, as it can develop into the wet form and those with wet AMD need to monitor for new leaky blood vessels.

If you do notice any changes in your vision, contact your eye care specialist right away.

How to Use the Amsler Grid

1. Wear your regular prescription glasses 

2. Use the same lighting each time and choose a spot without glare

3. Tape the grid at eye level or 

4.  Hold the test at arm's length. Test your eyes consistently at the same distance - around 12"-14"

5. Cover one eye.

6. With the uncovered eye, stare at the black dot in the center of the grid.

grid test for macular degeneration

7. You should be able to see the center black dot and the four corners and sides of the grid. The lines should appear to be straight and continuous from top to bottom and side to side.

8. Now test your other eye.

9. Test daily or ask your eye doctor regarding frequency

If you notice any wavy lines, distortions, or dark or blank spots contact your ophthalmologist immediately.

grid test for macular degeneration

Some specialists recommend that you use a different printable chart for each eye.  Mark on the chart where you notice blurring, blank or dark spots, or distortion so you can share the information with your eye doctor.

Your physician may use this macular degeneration test during your eye exam. There is no one test, but rather several exams a physician will use to diagnose macular degeneration. 

Home monitoring using the grid or chart does NOT replace regular eye exams with your eye doctor. 

Become familiar with them so that when you do have your next eye exam you will be prepared with questions to ask your physician to see if you have any early signs of age related macular degeneration.

Free Macular Degeneration Grid

You can normally obtain a free Amsler Grid from your eye doctor's office. 

amsler grid

If they have not provided you with one you can download and print the document from the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. 

Free Download PDF Amsler Chart

You can also request a free magnetic version of the Grid by calling Bright Focus Foundation at 1-855-345-6637.

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The information provided in this section of is a public service, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. 

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