How To Do An At Home Test For Macular Degeneration

Author
Laura Lifshitz
November 26, 2020

Macular degeneration is an age-related, degenerative condition that results in gradual vision loss. This eye disease is often discovered when an individual goes to his or her annual eye exam during a dilated eye exam that views the retinas. The eye doctor will find “drusen,” or little visible spots of cell waste that live on the surface of the retina. The eye doctor may also see pigment changes in the macula of your eyes (the central part of your retina).

I myself, went for my annual eye exam about three or four years ago, not noticing anything wrong with my vision other than my dry eyes (which have gotten worse over time) and near-sightedness (which had gotten better over the past few years) when my doctor noticed the presence of some drusen on my retinas. I was completely shocked being that I am in my forties, but I started to hear of other people finding the same result at the eye doctor, too, who are around my age.

elmiron vision loss lawsuit

To fight this disease and help strengthen my eyes, I started taking a supplement my doctor recommended, bought UV polarized sunglasses which I wear constantly even in overcast weather, and got blue-light glasses and an app to monitor blue light for my computer and phone. Over time, my eyes have actually improved. I do still have drusen, but some have gone away and by getting treatment and the diagnosis early, I am doing my part to limit or slow down any potential impact to my vision. I continue to see my eye doctor every six months as well, being a diligent patient!

The good news is you can even test for this serious eye disease right at home by downloading an Amsler grid, which looks similar to graph paper you may have used in high school geometry. Of course—don’t skip any eye doctor visits just by using this at-home test. Instead, use this at-home test as a way to see if you notice any potential issues and then, go and see your eye doctor to be sure. Only an eye doctor can do tests that will ensure accurate determination of whether you have macular degeneration or not.

How To Test For Macular Degeneration At Home

First download this grid. 

Amsler Grid macular degneration test

Then, follow these easy steps:

  1. Wear the eyeglasses (or contacts) you normally would wear when you read, even if you just have a pair of cheap readers.
  2. Hold the Amsler grid 14-16 inches away from your eyes; make sure the lighting in the room is the same lighting you would use when you read.
  3. Test one eye at a time by cupping your hand over one eye as you check the other.
  4. Now, focus your eye on the black center dot in the grid and see if you notice these things:

-Are the boxes in the grid square and all the same size?

-Do you notice any missing dark areas or holes in the grid?

-Can you see all the corners as well as sides of the grid even as you keep your eye steady on that black center dot?

-Do any of the lines in the Amsler grid appear blurry, distorted or wavy

  1. Repeat these steps with your other eye.

If you notice any issues, make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible.

Potential Causes of Macular Degeneration

Typically, age and genetics are the number one reasons someone has Macular Degeneration, but it’s also not unheard of for someone to have this due to a side effect of the drug Elmiron. Elmiron is used to treat pain associated with the bladder issue, Interstitial cystitis. Unfortunately, the active ingredient in Elmiron, pentosane polysulfate sodium is known for causing pigmentary maculopathy.

What Is Pigmentary Maculopathy?

This is a severe side effect from the drug Elmiron and causes various vision issues and symptoms, such as:

  • Parafoveal pigmented deposits - abnormalities in the capillaries and blood vessels around the macula, eventually resulting in vision loss.
  • Vitelliform deposits - yellowish lesions that form under the macula.
  • Retinal pigment epithelium atrophy - a dying off of retinal epithelial cells that result in a loss of vision - a common symptom of macular degeneration.

There are also several types of maculopathy, including Macular Degeneration like, Cellophane Maculopathy and Doyne Honeycomb Retinal Dystrophy.

If you or someone you know has taken Elmiron in the past, you should make an appointment to see your eye doctor. He or she can check your vision to see if you have suffered any of the above eye damage or problems. If you have any side effects to your vision due to Elmiron, a lawyer who specializes in these types of cases can help you handle compensation, claims and a potential court case.

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