Amsler Grid

The Amsler grid is a useful tool to detect vision problems resulting from damage to the macula (the central part of the retina).

Report any irregularity to your eye care professional immediately.

The grid does not replace having your macula tested by an eye care professional, particularly if you are over 50 yrs old or have any risk factors for macular degeneration.

Amsler Grid

How to do it

  1. Cover one eye, then focus on the dot in the centre.
  2. Do any of the lines look wavy, blurred or distorted?
  3. Are there any missing areas or dark areas in the grid?
  4. Don't forget to test
    both eyes.

What is Macular Degeneration (MD)?

The macula is the central part of the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina processes all visual images. It is responsible for your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. You are reading this using your macula. Macular Degeneration (MD) causes progressive loss of central vision but peripheral vision is not affected.

 Eye Structure

What are the types of MD?

There are two types of MD, dry and wet.

Dry MD is more common than wet and results in a gradual loss of central vision. Dry MD may progress to the wet form over time.

Dry MD is generally thought of in 3 stages. The early stage is characterized by the presence of drusen. These are small yellow deposits that build up under the retina, and are easily detectable during an eye examination. Vision is usually unaffected.

Dry and Wet MD

Intermediate dry MD is characterized by one or more large drusen that commonly result in blurred vision and a need for more light to read. Vision may be mildly distorted and an early central blind spot (scotoma) may develop.

Advanced dry MD, or geographic atrophy, occurs when there is significant loss of retinal pigment and results in a larger central scotoma. This makes reading almost impossible and requires people to rely on their peripheral vision that remains intact.

 Wet MD is characterised by a sudden and severe loss of vision caused by abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina. Immediate medical treatment of wet MD is essential if symptoms occur.

Stargardt Disease

While Macular Degeneration is normally associated with ageing eyes, an inherited form known as Stargardt's disease can affect children and young adults. Stargardt disease is a bilateral inherited retinal dystrophy usually affecting the central retina, the macula, resulting in a deterioration of the central vision. Read more...

MD Vision Examples


What are the risk factors?

MD is thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors. People over the age of 50 years are at risk. If you smoke or have a family history of MD, your risk of developing the disease is much greater.

Key symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Diffculty with reading or any other activity that requires fine vision.
  • Distortion, where straight lines appear wavy or bent.
  • Distinguishing faces becomes a problem.
  • Dark patches or empty spaces appear in the centre of your vision.

If you experience any of these symptoms contact your eye care specialist immediately.

Macular Degeneration Eye health checklist

  • Have your eyes tested and make sure the macula is checked.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle, control your weight and exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Limit your intake of fats, eat fish two or three times a week, eat dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily and a handful of nuts a week.
  • In consultation with your doctor, consider taking a zinc and antioxidant supplement.
  • Provide adequate protection for your eyes from sunlight exposure, especially when young.


Are you at risk of macular degeneration? Click here to watch Viv's story that was recently featured on TVNZ's ONE News.

Learn more about Macular Degeneration

Find out how MD affects the lives of real New Zealanders. Watch the video, learn about the risks and see how MD is a growing problem in our society.


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Map: Where is MD in NZ?

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a growing problem in NZ. Total prevalence is predicted to be 206,908 in 2018.

View more

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Getting tested is simple

There is a quick and easy way to tell if MD affects your vision.  Click on the link below to see if you have the common warning signs.

Test Button

 MDNZ Website 3steps

What you need to know

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What's the chance?

In New Zealand MD affects 1 in 7 people over the age of 50 years

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Smokers have 3 times the risk of developing MD and tend to develop MD 10 years earlier than non-smokers

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Is it getting worse?

It is estimated the number of people with MD will increase by 70% by 2030

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More common than you think

Age related Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of blindness

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You need to know!

Of those most at risk (50+) 67% have heard of MD and only 48% understand that it is an eye disorder. *Galaxy Poll March 2014

People with a family history of MD have a 50% chance of inheriting the genetic predisposition of developing MD.

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What if I don't have treatment?

Untreated, the majority of people with wet MD become functionally blind within 2 years

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