If you have age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), you may already know about the Amsler grid. You’ve likely done this test with your eye specialist (ophthalmologist).

There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the layers of the macula (the part of the retina responsible for central vision). It can cause dark spots in your vision, wavy or distorted lines, and blurriness. AMD doesn’t affect your peripheral (side) vision.

The Amsler grid can be used to diagnose and monitor conditions that affect the macula, including wet AMD. It’s named after an ophthalmologist from Switzerland, Dr. Marc Amsler. Its first use was about 75 years ago, and it’s still an important part of managing wet AMD today.

The Amsler grid is a chart with evenly spaced vertical and horizontal lines to create a square grid. It can be used at home and takes less than a minute.

Gradual changes in your vision may be hard to notice when you live with wet AMD. Using the Amsler grid daily can make any changes in your eye health more obvious.

If you notice changes in your vision, it’s important to see your eye doctor as soon as possible. There are treatments for wet AMD that can help slow the progression of this condition.

Starting treatment as early as possible is the best way to protect your sight. Regular visits with your eye doctor are still important. Testing at home with the Amsler grid doesn’t replace regular eye checks with an eye care professional.

Here’s how to use the Amsler grid as part of monitoring your wet AMD:

The Amsler grid looks best on pure white matte paper. You can get your own copy to print off here. Your eye care professional may also be able to give you a copy.

It’s a good idea to have two copies of the Amsler grid. Label each grid for either your left or right eye. You can make note of any vision changes right on these charts.

Make sure to keep your Amsler chart somewhere you’ll remember to use it. Use it every day to detect any vision changes early.

It’s best to try to work it into your daily routine so that you don’t forget to do it. Consider sticking it on the fridge or putting it near the coffee maker. Doing the routine once per week works for most people.

When it’s time to do the test, make sure you’re in a well-lit space. Use lamps as needed and make sure there are no shadows or glare on the test paper.

If you typically wear glasses for reading, wear them to do the test.

This should feel like the typical and comfortable distance you would use to read something. You can either hold it out straight in your hand or post it on the fridge or a bulletin board.

The Amsler grid is designed to check your central vision. The black dot is the place you should focus on. This ensures you’re looking straight ahead. Gently cover one eye without pressing on your eye. Look straight at the black dot for 5 to 10 seconds.

While focusing on the black dot in the center, notice how the lines on the grid look. If all lines appear straight and clear, it is a routine test. Check for any dark or white spots, blurred or fuzzy areas, or lines that look warped.

If you do notice any of these things, you can make note of them right on the chart.

Uncover your eye and give it a few seconds to adjust to the lighting. Now, cover the eye you just did the test on. Again, do not press on your eye. Stare right at the black dot for five to ten seconds. Look for any changes in the appearance of the lines or any dark or white areas.

If there are any new changes in your vision, mark them on the Amsler grid page. It’s smart to contact your eye care professional as soon as possible. There are treatments for wet AMD to slow the progression.

Do this test daily so that you’ll notice any vision changes early.

An Amsler grid is an important tool used as part of managing wet AMD. Vision changes can happen gradually, and early signs of eye damage may not be noticeable. The Amsler grid is a tool that makes it easier to notice vision changes.

When you live with wet AMD, it’s recommended to do the Amsler test daily. When changes are caught early, treatments can help slow the progression of wet AMD.

The Amsler grid is part of wet AMD management but does not replace regular checks with your eye doctor.