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Follow-Up Visits for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

What to discuss at your follow-up appointments with your eye doctor for wet age-related macular degeneration.

Follow-Up Visits for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

If you’re living with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), you know about the importance of monitoring for vision changes at home. In addition, regularly visiting your eye doctor for follow-up appointments is key to preserving your vision and keeping your eyes healthy.

AMD occurs when the part of the retina in the back of the eye—called the macula—starts to deteriorate. This deterioration is caused by deposits of cellular waste called drusen. The condition typically does not cause any noticeable changes at first. Eventually, it can lead to central vision loss that makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks like driving or reading.

AMD and regular check-ups
Follow-up visits are an important part of AMD treatment for a few key reasons:

  • Monitoring AMD progression. Follow your eye doctor’s advice on how often you should be checked. While you should visit your eye doctor any time you notice a change in your vision, AMD can cause damage even before your vision is affected. When you visit your eye doctor, they can look at the macula of your eyes to determine if AMD has progressed—and treat it accordingly.
  • Staying on top of treatment. If you have wet AMD—the more advanced version of the condition—you will likely be treated with anti–vascular endothelial growth factor therapy (anti-VEGF therapy). This involves medications that are injected into the affected eye (or eyes). Anti-VEGF therapy can stabilize—and in some cases, improve—your vision.

What to discuss with your eye doctor
Consider discussing these topics at every visit with your eye doctor:

  • Any new symptoms. Even if your vision has been stable for a while, it’s always good to be on alert for any new symptoms. Tell your eye doctor if you have trouble seeing things that are straight ahead, or if you’re noticing the lines on an Amsler grid look curved or blocked out when you monitor your vision at home.
  • Improvement in symptoms. It’s also good to tell your eye doctor if you’ve noticed any improvement in your previous symptoms. This would mean that things look clearer when you stare straight ahead, and your vision isn’t clouded by gray, white, or black regions on an Amsler grid, if that was an issue before.
  • If AMD affects your daily activities. Your eye doctor will want to know how AMD is affecting your everyday life. Tell them if AMD is getting in the way of reading, driving, or any other activities, and if so, what you're doing to adapt.

It’s common to have other questions about AMD. You might want to ask:

  • What steps can you take to slow the progression of AMD and protect your vision?
  • What can you expect if the condition worsens or progresses?
  • What are your treatment options?
  • What devices and other resources can help you live with vision loss?

Making the most of your appointments can help you stay on top of monitoring and treating AMD and preserve your vision.

Medically reviewed in August 2021.

Sources:
Harvard Health Publishing. "AMD: a preventable form of vision loss."
Prevent Blindness. "Eye Diseases & Conditions: Dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)."
American Macular Degeneration Foundation. "What is Macular Degeneration?."
The Macula Center. "Drusen in macular degeneration."
BrightFocus Foundation. "Monitoring the Progression of Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration."
American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Anti-VEGF Treatments."
National Eye Institute. "Talk with Your Doctor About AMD."
BrightFocus Foundation. "How to Use the Amsler Grid."

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