Seeing vertical lines in vision that are wavy, when they should normally be straight, is a possible sign of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration symptoms are important to be aware of as we age. Macular degeneration (also know as age-related macular degeneration) is an eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of the field of vision due to retinal deterioration. It is important to keep up with routine eye exams, because your eye care professional is likely to see signs of macular degeneration before you begin experiencing symptoms. When symptoms do begin, they can include the following:
- Blurry or “fuzzy” vision, which can include blurry areas on a printed page
- Horizontal lines that should appear straight (such as sentences on a page) appearing wavy or distorted
- Seeing distorted vertical lines in vision: lines that should normally be straight may appear wavy, distorted, or missing
- Lighting difficulties, which may include sensitivity to glare, or difficulty seeing print or fine details in low light levels
- Difficulty seeing while driving
- Dark, blurry, or whiteout areas in the central field of vision
- Changes in color perception (rare)
For more information, please refer to the Macular Degeneration Symptoms article on WebRN.
Dry vs Wet Macular Degeneration
Most people with MD have the dry form, causing yellow deposits, known as drusen, on the macula. However, dry macular degeneration may progress to wet MD, in which the blood vessels underneath the macula start leaking fluid and blood into the retina. This leakage can cause more severe visual distortion, blind spots, and even permanent central vision loss.
Test for seeing vertical lines in vision accurately: Amsler Grids to check for symptoms and disease progression
Amsler grids are sometimes given to patients once macular degeneration is diagnosed to check for symptoms at home. Vision changes can include increased sensitivity to horizontal and vertical lines. Here is a sample of what an Amsler grid looks like.
For a person with macular degeneration, lines on the grid may appear wavy, distorted, or missing. If you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, it is important to check your vision daily and notify your eye care professional of any vision changes or new symptoms.Note: if you are interested in self-testing for macular degeneration, here is a link to a full-size printable Amsler grid, along with detailed instructions on how to complete the self-test for seeing vertical lines in vision. Again, you should notify your eye care professional of any vision changes or distortions and keep up with regular eye exams.
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What are the causes of macular degeneration?
Although no scientific evidence exists on the precise cause of the disease, there are certain risk factors that may increase your chances of developing MD. Risk factors for MD include age, environmental factors, and family history.
- Most people who develop macular degeneration are over the age of 50.
- MD diagnoses are most commonly seen in people of Caucasian decent.
- Cardiovascular disease may increase your chance of developing macular degeneration, and obesity may increase your chance of developing a more severe form of the disease.
- A family history of macular degeneration is often seen in those who are diagnosed.
- Finally, smoking also increases your chance of an MD diagnosis.
Patients with dry macular degeneration may see a progression to wet MD. According to Mayo Clinic, about 10% of people with age-related macular degeneration have the wet form of the disease. Wet MD can develop through abnormal blood vessel growth that interferes with the functioning of the retina, or through the build-up of fluid in the back of the eye that causes vision loss or distortion.
The importance of routine eye exams
Routine eye exams are crucial for early detection, treatment and prevention of eye disease.
Sometimes, macular degeneration can cause vision loss on only one eye. The other eye compensates, masking the symptoms.
Here is an infographic summarizing some of the common symptoms of macular degeneration. If you experience any sudden changes in vision, contact your eye doctor right away.
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This video describes the various symptoms of MD.
Last updated August 24, 2022.
By Bethany Wyshak. Reviewed by Stuart Flom.
Boyd, K. (2022, February 10). What Is Macular Degeneration? American Academy of Ophthalmology. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration
Mayo Clinic. (2021, May 8). Dry macular degeneration – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-macular-degeneration/symptoms-causes/syc-20350375
Mogk, L. (2022, May 19). How Does Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Affect Vision? VisionAware. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://visionaware.org/your-eye-condition/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd/how-does-amd-affect-vision/
WebMD. (2007, May 18). Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/macular-degeneration/age-related-macular-degeneration-symptoms
WebRN-MacularDegeneration. (n.d.). Macular Degeneration Symptoms-Blurred Vision, Wavy Lines, Faded Colors. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://www.webrn-maculardegeneration.com/macular-degeneration-symptoms.html