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Screening for Macular Degeneration

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Snellen Acuity Testing —Visual acuity is measured with a Snellen chart, which displays letters, numbers, or objects of progressively smaller size. Normal vision is 20/20. Vision that is 20/40 allows you to pass a driver’s license test in all 50 states. If your vision is 20/80, you will be able to read an alarm clock that is 10 feet away. If your vision is 20/200, you are considered legally blind. Legally blind does not mean that you cannot see anything. It only implies that your vision is limited.

Screening Guidelines

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following:

  • One complete eye exam in your 20s.
  • Two complete eye exams in your 30s.
  • A baseline eye exam at age 40, even if you have no eye problems or are not at risk for eye disease.
  • A complete eye exam after age 65 every 1-2 years.

Based on the results of the exam, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan and/or a schedule for follow-up visits.

You may need more frequent visits if you:

  • Currently have an eye condition
  • Have symptoms of an eye condition
  • Are at an increased risk for an eye condition
  • Have a chronic disease that may affect your vision, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Wear contact lenses

The eye exam also tests for other eye disorders, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

Revision Information

  • Age-related macular degeneration. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 23, 2013. Accessed July 15, 2013.

  • Get screened at 40. American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/screening.cfm. Accessed July 15, 2013.

  • Vision screening recommendations for adults 40 to 60. American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/midlife-adults-screening.cfm. Accessed July 15, 2013.

  • Vision screening recommendations for adults over 60. American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/seniors-screening.cfm. Accessed July 15, 2013.

  • Vision screening recommendations for adults under 40. American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/young-adults-screening.cfm. Accessed July 15, 2013.