program logo/macu/on light

Amsler Grid Eye Test

  • Publication
Published on:

Download PDF: English | Spanish

An Amsler grid.

The Amsler grid is an at-home eye test that can help detect early signs of retinal disease such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). If you have already been diagnosed with AMD, the Amsler grid will help you detect the progression of dry AMD to the wet form of the disease at an early, treatable stage.

How to Use the Amsler Grid

  1. Use the Amsler grid pictured here. Or, download and print this free Amsler grid eye test on plain white paper.

  2. With reading glasses on, hold the grid at a distance that allows you to get most of the lines in focus; it will probably be about 12-14 inches away, the same as book reading distance.  

  3. Cover one eye and focus on the black dot in the middle of the grid.  

  4. Cover the other eye and repeat the test. If the lines appear to be wavy, dim, irregular, or fuzzy, schedule an eye exam immediately.

  5. Repeat the test once a week. Call us at 1-855-345-6637 to request a magnetic version of the Amsler grid so you can put it on your refrigerator. 

It is important to cover or close one eye so that you are testing only one eye at a time. If you use it with both eyes open, the good eye can compensate for an eye with wet AMD, and you won’t notice any abnormalities. 

An eye without wet AMD will usually see all the lines as straight. In contrast, an eye with wet AMD will often see some of the lines as curved or even blocked out by a gray, white, or black region. This is caused by fluid that accumulates within or under the retina, which can form a blister, making straight lines look curved. Sometimes the fluid interferes with retinal function enough to cause a gray, white, black, or red “blind spot” in or near the center of the visual field.

The good news is that the fluid, caused by new leaky blood vessels in the retina, can often be dried up by treatment with brolucizumab (Beovu®), aflibercept (Eylea®), ranibizumab (Lucentis®), or bevacizumab (Avastin®). These medicines are injected into the eye through a tiny needle, as often as once per month. Learn more about treatments for macular degeneration.

This test does not replace regular eye exams.

Watch: How to Use the Amsler Grid

View Video

  • Narrator: An Amsler grid is a simple at home test us to monitor vision. This test is used to assess the macula, the center of the retina, responsible for detailed central vision.

    The Amsler grid consists of evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines printed on white paper.

    A small dot is located in the center of the grid for fixation. While staring at the dot one eye at a time the patient looks for wavy lines and missing areas on the grid.

    Upon noticing any distortions or missing areas on the grid’s surface an appointment should be made immediately to discuss these changes with an eye care professional. It is also important to remember that this test should not replace regularly scheduled visits with an eye doctor.

If an eye with wet AMD goes untreated for a few months or longer, it can begin to develop retinal scarring. This scarring can lead to irreversible vision loss in parts of the visual field, so it is best to monitor your vision at home at least once a week with the grid and call your retina specialist if you notice a change.

If your eye doctor tells you that you don’t have wet AMD, look at the grid shortly after the exam to determine your baseline. There may be a little waviness of the lines in a few places due to large drusen, semi-solid deposits that form under the retina in AMD. Then, if you check again at a later point and think the area of waviness has increased or a new area has appeared, or you have a new blind spot, it’s time to call the retina specialist.

Even without a grid, you may notice changes in your vision that should prompt a call to your eye doctor:

  • reading becomes more difficult
  • straight lines look curved (a door frame, for example)
  • it becomes harder to see or recognize faces
  • computer and TV images are more challenging to see


En Español:
Instrucciones para usar Cuadrícula de Amsler (PDF) en español.

The information provided in this section is a public service of BrightFocus Foundation, should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we make efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research.    

Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. 

Donate to Macular Degeneration Research

As many as 20 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration. Your gift can help fund the latest research to find a cure and provide valuable information to families living with this disease.

I would like to donate

Don't miss out.

Receive macular degeneration breakthrough news, research updates, and inspiring stories.