Contact Lens Care
About Contact Lenses
Children's Eye Health
Lenses & Lifestyle
Prescriptions & Eye Tests
The Amsler grid
Medically reviewed by Alastair Lockwood on 03 March 2021
The Amsler grid has been used since 1945 and was developed by the Swiss ophthalmologist, Marc Amsler. It is used to detect the early signs of retinal disease and monitor any changes in vision if a diagnosis is made.
What is an Amsler grid and what is it used for?
An Amsler grid can be used to spot a range of vision problems resulting from damage to the macula. For those that have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an Amsler grid is central to monitoring vision.
What does an Amsler grid look like?
An Amsler grid looks like a piece of grid paper. The paper is white, and the lines are straight and black going horizontally and vertically across the page, creating squares. The grid also has a small black dot at the centre.
Who invented the Amsler grid?
The Amsler grid was developed by a Swiss ophthalmologist named Marc Amsler and has been used since 1945. The Marc Amsler grid was an improvement over the initial work done by the ophthalmologist Edmond Landolt.
How do you read an Amsler grid?
Although we highly advise seeking regular tests by an optometrist, you can test your eyes yourself with an Amsler grid in between your optical check-ups.
- Put your reading glasses on and cover/close one eye.
- Hold the Amsler grid at reading distance. You can print it out on a piece of card.
- Keep your eye fixated on the small black dot in the centre.
- Keep your gaze completely still and fixed on the black dot and watch to see if any of the grid lines are missing or distorted.
- Mark these abnormalities on the chart with a pencil/pen.
- Make sure that you test each eye separately.
Always keep the Amsler grid the same distance from your eye each time you do a test and report to your optometrist if you notice any changes.
An eye without wet AMD will see the lines on an Amsler grid as straight. An eye that has wet AMD will view the lines on an Amsler grid as being curved, or obstructed by white, grey or black areas. This is caused by the build up of fluid within or under the retina. This forms a blister, making the straight lines on the Amsler grid look curved. If the fluid interferes with the retinal function enough, blind spots towards the central area of the visual field can appear.
Quick links:A guide to age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
A guide to retinitis pigmentosa
Do I need an eye test?