Calendar shaped like eye with amsler grid

How Can an Amsler Grid Save Our Vision?

I’ve come to the realization that the Amsler grid is one of my arch nemeses. If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t been using it as much as I should. And it isn’t always because I forget. Sometimes, I’m too scared to.

Sometimes using it feels hard

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for using Amsler grids to monitor vision and the possible progression of eye diseases. It’s just that sometimes it feels hard to use it. I would never suggest a person not use one. However, I’m also not going to sit here and pretend it’s as easy a task as it may seem.

More on this to come. First, I want to do a quick review of what Amsler grids are, how to use them, and why it’s important to use them. If you’re not new to using Amsler Grids, I hope you stick with this article, as the message at the end is important for everyone.

Overview: Amsler grid

To put it simply, an Amsler grid is a small grid that we can look at to notice any new missing spots or wavy lines in our vision. My grid is in the form of a magnet and is hanging on the side of my refrigerator. I also have one in my wallet that looks like a business card.

Where can I get an Amsler grid?

We can get Amsler grids easily by printing them off of the internet or by asking our medical professionals for one. My ophthalmologist's office and my retina specialist’s office both offer them.

How do I use an Amsler grid?

Amsler Grids are simple to use and don’t take up much time at all to use. You simply place your grid in front of you (one reason why I love my magnetic grid). Next, you close one eye and just look at the boxes, taking mental note of where you see any missing or wavy lines. Then, you switch eyes and repeat the process.

How often should I use my Amsler grid?

If you do this daily, you should be able to notice any changes in the location, number, or length of your missing and/or wavy lines. No change is great news. A change, no matter how small, is an indicator that there may be a reason to check in with our doctor - just in case.

Why people use Amsler grids?

To put it simply, we may not see minor changes in our vision right away unless we have a tool to help us. Amsler grids are this tool. They are used to more easily notice possible vision changes. Though it may seem a little tedious to do this process daily, the purpose of these grids is to catch any possible issues early on.

Early detection is one really important way we may be able to save or preserve our vision.

Who should use Amsler grids?

In short, I believe that everyone should use Amsler Grids. Usually, Amsler Grids aren’t a thing people are introduced to until there’s already been a problem with their vision. Or until there’s been a diagnosis of Age-Related Macular Degeneration.

These people absolutely should use an Amsler grid. But, I have the strong opinion that everyone capable should use one because you never know if AMD is going to creep its way into your eyes. Especially as we age. And especially if we have relatives that have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, as this is often a genetic disease.

Why I struggle to use my Amsler grid

I was chatting with a friend recently who, at an annual checkup, was told by her doctor that she had some mild progression with her myopic macular degeneration. She was angry with herself because she hadn’t noticed changes to her vision and she had gotten lax with using her Amsler grid. After her dilation wore off, she checked her grid and did notice the changes her doctor told her about.

During our discussion, we both realized that it’s easy to stop using our Amsler grids daily after long periods of no change. Besides that, we are both a little afraid to use them because a change in vision feels really, REALLY scary.

Big feelings arise with changes in vision

My friend’s scary visit with not-so-good news was a reminder to me to stay diligent with using my Amsler grid each and every day. It can be scary to anticipate a possible change (and the slew of things that follow that stomach drop feeling that accompanies it). But, it’s more important to face our fears and stay on top of any changes so we can get help right away if we need it. Our eyes depend on us being brave.

Have you checked your Amsler grid lately?

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