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The Amsler Grid and How to Use It

People who have been diagnosed with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD or AMD) are often given a card or sheet of paper printed with a grid of squares and a dot in the center. This is known as an Amsler Grid; this is a handy device designed for monitoring your own vision at home.

AMD can progress slowly, or quickly, so it is a good idea to monitor your own vision at home for changes that may happen between vision checkups in your eyecare practitioner’s office.

Follow these steps to use the Amsler Grid:

  • If you wear spectacles or contact lenses, use the grid with your eyewear in place.
  • Attach the Amsler Grid to a vertical surface at eye level in a well-lighted area.
  • Stand about 18 inches or 40 cm away from the grid.
  • Cover one eye with the palm of your hand or a large wooden spoon.
  • With the uncovered eye, fixate on the central dot in the grid; do not allow your eye to wander.
  • While looking at the dot, be aware of the vision on the surrounding grid, but do not move your eye from the central dot.
  • As you keep looking at the dot, check the surrounding grid area for any distorted lines or missing spots in the grid.
  • Make a note if you notice any changes in your vision. Write down what area of the grid has changed, and if the lines appear to be distorted or missing.

You should be able to see all four corners of the grid in your peripheral vision, without moving your eye away from the central dot.

Check each eye separately and record your findings separately for each eye.

Check the grid at least once a week, but no more than once a day.

Each line in the grid should appear to be straight and undistorted, and there should be no missing areas in it. If you notice either a change in your vision since the last time you looked, or if you notice that the grid does not appear to be square and the lines straight, call your eyecare practitioner right away for an eye examination with dilated pupils.

AMD is one of the leading causes of functional blindness in North America. Sometimes, it can begin to progress without being noticed, especially if the fellow eye remains normal. Self-monitoring your own vision is a valuable method of catching any change in its earliest stages.