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Screening for Macular Degeneration

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Screening for Macular Degeneration

Screening is done to find a problem and treat it early. Tests are given to people who do not have symptoms but who may be at high risk.

Snellen acuity testing is done with an eye chart. It checks how well a person can read letters, numbers, or objects as they get smaller.

Normal vision is 20/20. Vision that is 20/40 allows a person to pass a driver’s license test in all 50 states. If a person's vision is 20/80, they will be able to read an alarm clock that is 10 feet away. A vision of 20/200 is considered legally blind. Legally blind does not mean that a person cannot see anything. It means that vision is limited.

Screening Guidelines

The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises:

  • One complete eye exam—when a person is in their 20s
  • Two complete eye exams—when a person is in their 30s
  • A baseline eye exam at age 40—even if there are no eye problems or risks for eye disease
  • A complete eye exam after age 65 every 1 to 2 years.

Based on the results of the exam, the doctor will advise a treatment plan and follow-up visits.

A person may need more frequent visits if they:

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

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


  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd.
  • Eye health information for adults over 65. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/seniors.
  • Eye health information for adults 40 to 65. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/midlife-adults.
  • Eye health information for adults under 40. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/young-adults.
  • Get an eye disease screening at 40. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/screening.


  • Mark Arredondo, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.