Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Testing your vision with the Amsler grid

Keeping an eye on your vision

If you have Behcet's disease, you may or may not have problems with your vision -- as a matter of fact, approximately 25% of BD patients never have eye complications in their lifetime. But why take chances?
  • Even if you've never had any vision problems, take the time to get a baseline eye exam done by an ophthalmologist. Some Behcet's-related eye problems can be "silent" at first, and not give any warning signs. Once you've had this baseline exam done, go back at least once each year to make sure that your retinas (and other eye structures) are still ok. Of course, you'll go back more often if you notice any vision problems...more about that later.

  • Make sure that the person caring for your eyes has the right level of training. Opticians and optometrists aren't trained to recognize and deal with all of the possible Behcet's-related eye complications. See an ophthalmologist, preferably one that's also a uveitis specialist. If you don't know whether your eye doctor is an ophthalmologist, an optometrist or an optician, ask!
    There is a list of U.S. uveitis specialists at this page:
    International uveitis specialists are here:

  • When to see an ophthalmologist:
    While there are many different symptoms that need to be checked by an ophthalmologist, here are some of the top problems:

    If your vision is hazy, continually blurry, or foggy
    Pain when looking at bright lights
    A red ring around the iris (colored part) of one or both eyes. The whites of the eyes may also be red.
    Double vision
    A shower of floaters, or new floaters, in your vision
    Seeing halos around lights
    If straight lines appear wavy, broken, or distorted
    A dark curtain seems to be falling across part of the vision in one eye
    Blind spots in your vision
    Pain in one or both eyes
(The following information is from:
http://www.eyecareamerica.com/eyecare/conditions/macular-degeneration/amsler.cfm ):

One of the easiest ways to check your vision every day is by using an Amsler grid, like the one pictured here. You may find changes in your vision that you wouldn't notice otherwise. Putting the grid on the front of your refrigerator is a good way to remember to look at it each day. The Amsler Grid is used for diagnosing macular degeneration.

To use the grid:

  1. Wear your reading glasses (if necessary) and hold this grid 12 to 15 inches away from your face in good light
  2. Cover one eye
  3. Look directly at the center dot with the uncovered eye
  4. While looking directly at the center dot, note whether all lines of the grid are straight or if any areas are distorted, blurred or dark
  5. Repeat this procedure with the other eye
  6. If any area of the grid looks wavy, blurred or dark, contact your ophthalmologist immediately
And finally, learn as much as possible about uveitis, which is one of the top Behcet's-related eye complications. Here's a great guide that you can get online for free, from the Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation. It's called A Guide to Ocular Inflammatory Disease, and it can be found here:


Be kind to your eyes. Take good care of them.

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