A new study has found that testing for Age-Related Macular Degeneration can be done more efficiently than once thought. Currently, patients testing for AMD are required to sit in a darkened room for 20 minutes before being diagnosed with the condition.
Until recently, scientists believed it was crucial that a patient’s vision be adjusted to darkness before undergoing AMD testing. This belief came from the notion that the rod receptors (the vision cells that we use in low light) are damaged earlier in AMD than the cone receptors (the cells that detect colour and require bright lighting). So, if a patient’s eyes were adjusted to the darkness, their rod receptors would be stimulated, enabling doctors to detect the condition accurately. Thus, the preconceived impression was that AMD tests would be more precise if they were predominantly based on the health of a person’s “night” vision cells.
However, recent research has verified that while rod receptors die more quickly than the cone receptors, both vision cells tend to degenerate around the same time in AMD.
Such information has led scientists to determine that Age-Related Macular Degeneration can be just as effectively diagnosed under bright lights. Using the TrueField Analyzer, a new device developed by Australian researchers, doctors are able to test how pupils respond to pictures on LCD screens in order to make a diagnosis.
“The response of the pupils is a good indicator of how well the eyes are working- healthy eyes, being more sensitive to stimuli, will produce larger pupil contractions than damaged eyes,”1 explains Ted Maddess, a professor from The Vision Center and the Australian National University.
Maddess, who played a pivotal role in the development of the TrueField Analyzer noted that the results found with the device posed little to no difference compared to the results found with standard AMD testing. 1
“With the TrueField Analyzer, we could diagnose AMD just as well regardless of how much light the eyes were exposed to during the test,” adds Maddess.
The new findings may mean shorter wait times and easier, more comfortable testing procedures for patients.1
What do you think about this new discovery? What was your experience being tested for AMD like?