New test detects early signs of macular disease

Fight for Sight funded research has resulted in the development of a new eye test called the Moorfields Acuity Chart (MAC). This chart has the ability to spot the first stages of sight loss in age-related macular degeneration.


Why was this research needed?
Age-related macular degeneration commonly affects people age 50 and older. The condition affects the macula, a small part of the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye (the retina) which is used for the central, detailed vision needed for reading and driving. Age-related macular degeneration causes blurred or reduced central vision, in one or both eyes.

Most sight loss from age-related macular degeneration happens in the later stages. Until now, there has been no quick and reliable sight test that can detect the earliest changes in the retina in age-related macular degeneration. Standard letter charts are not consistent or sensitive enough to give an early diagnosis accurately or to monitor the progress of the condition.

What were the results of the research project?
The research team developed a new eye test that uses letters – known as ‘high-pass’ letters – built up from fine (high spatial frequency) black-and-white stripes.
Results showed that MAC charts produced more reliable results compared with standard charts for people with the condition. This was not the case for participants with normal vision.

How will this research impact patients?
The earliest vision loss associated with age-related macular degeneration can be detected more reliably using the new test. The new chart is sensitive enough to give an accurate early diagnosis, which will enable patients to start treatment plans more quickly. The chart also allows more reliable monitoring of disease progression which is important as new treatments are developed that can prevent sight loss from this condition.

Find out more about age related macular degeneration
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