Distorted vision (aka metamorphopsia) makes straight lines appear wavy and objects to appear bent or misshapen. There are many possible causes, such as eye diseases, injury to the eye, eye infection, or inflammation.
The underlying causes are usually abnormal vessels that are leaking under the retina, damage to the macula, swelling or any abnormal collection of blood or fluid under the retina.
The following is a list of eye conditions that can cause distorted vision:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Diabetic and nondiabetic macular edema
- Vitreoretinal traction
- Retinal detachment
- Central serous chorioretinopathy
- Retinal artery occlusion
- Macular hole, or macular pucker
- Stargardt’s disease
How is the cause of visual distortion diagnosed?
A dilated eye exam along with one or more forms of medical imaging are used to diagnose the cause of visual distortion.
Dilated eye exam. A dilated eye exam enables a thorough visual examination of the retina. The doctor can closely examine the condition of the macula and detect the presence of blood vessel leakage or cysts.
Optical coherence tomography. This is an imaging technique that uses low-coherence light that scatters and a camera to capture detailed microscopic views of the cell layers inside the retina. It detects the thickness of the retina, making it useful in determining the amount of swelling in the macula.
Fluorescein angiogram. In this test, a medical dye is injected into your arm and a camera takes photos of the retina as the dye travels through the blood vessels. This test helps your ophthalmologist identify the leaking blood vessels and the amount of damage they have done to the macula.
At-home-test for visual distortion
The Amsler Grid. The Amsler Grid was developed in 1945 by Swiss ophthalmologist Marc Amsler and it is a test to determine the function of the macula by detecting visual distortions. The grid enables patients to self-test for visual distortions. It is a useful monitoring tool for diabetics and those with macular degeneration.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOME USE: If you need reading glasses, wear them when you look at the Amsler Grid. The grid should be at the same distance from your eyes as your usual reading material, which is usually about 14 inches. Test both eyes, one at a time, to see if any parts of the grid look distorted, missing, or dark. Mark the areas of the chart that you’re not seeing properly and bring it with you to your next eye exam.
There is no single treatment for the many causes of distortion. Depending upon the exact cause, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medication, anti-VEGF injections, surgery or other treaments.
If you are experiencing distortion, please alert your eye doctor.