In-Home Macular Degeneration Detection

In-Home Macular Degeneration Detection

Medicine is changing so rapidly that experts predict, within the next decade or so, doctor’s offices may be phased out due to home digital and self diagnosis tools. Telemedicine alone has enabled physicians to video chat with patients or look at emailed or texted photos of certain visual ailments (often topical skin presentations) and be able to remotely treat conditions through a recommended prescription. 

The Washington Examiner describes this new approach,

“Telemedicine or tele-health services allow patients to attend a digital “visit” with their doctors from home, which begins with a video chat or phone call with a physician who is out of reach. The patient describes his or her symptoms and the physician creates a care plan.”

Using digital technology for in-home macular degeneration detection may become part of the telemedicine / tele-health treatment protocol. As more people are overwhelmed by this disease (either afflicted or a loved one caring for someone afflicted), using state-of-the-art tools to get ahead of symptoms and degeneration may just save one’s sight. This technology could also reduce anxiety, alleviate pain more rapidly, reduce cost, minimize excessive office travel and wait times, and be able to see any future sight threat for early treatment.

Get to know the beginnings of in-home macular degeneration detection so you can get ahead of the curve and keep your sight out of the crosshairs of this blinding disease. 


Notal Vision, a company out of Israel, recently received FDA approval for a home monitoring test they call ForseeHome. It is a device that is capable of detecting early signs of wet AMD (age-related macular degeneration) in people with intermediate dry AMD. 

Wet AMD is an advanced case of this disease described here by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF), 

“About ten percent of all cases of Age-related Macular Degeneration become “Wet” AMD (typically a person has dry AMD first and progresses toward wet).Wet AMD is a condition in which new blood vessels grow in the choroid layer behind the retina. This condition is called choroidal neovascularization or CNV. The new vessels are weak, and they leak fluid, lipids (part of the structure of cells), and blood. The leaking gets into the layers of the retina – including the layers of the macula – and can cause scar tissue to form and retinal cells to stop functioning.”

The device is prescribed by a physician and is covered by Medicare and most private health insurance plans. It takes about three minutes for each eye to be monitored and results are immediately sent to the Notal Vision Data Monitoring Center in Virginia. If a significant change from the established baseline is detected, the data center immediately alerts that patient’s physician office for a recommended checkup. Without this device many people could suffer excessive progression of the disease without even knowing it until it is too late. 


Some in-home devices may come in the form of a futuristic looking scanner. Retinal scanners are often used in-office to determine changes in the retina. They are large machines that cost thousands of dollars. Soon, you could get a handheld scanner through a doctor’s prescription and be able to scan and automatically send daily images of your retina to your physician. Having a scanner at home could hold off developing macular degeneration or find markers that could show future development. 

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed a new handheld retinal scanner that is lightweight and less expensive than standard designs. This design will be especially useful in underprivileged areas of the world where an eye doctor may not even exist. It is called a portable optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanner and is designed from 3-D printed plastic spectrometer. The new design produced images of 120 retinas that were 95 percent as sharp as those taken by current commercial systems.

Adam Wax, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke commented, 

“Once you have lost vision, it’s very difficult to get it back, so the key to preventing blindness is early detection,…Our goal is to make OCT drastically less expensive so more clinics can afford the devices, especially in global health settings. Right now OCT devices sit in their own room and require a PhD scientist to tweak them to get everything working just right,” said Wax. “Ours can just sit on a shelf in the office and be taken down, used and put back without problems. We’ve scanned people in a Starbucks with it.”

Genetic Database

A simple in-home test may determine the future of your eyesight. Now that many people have tried genetic testing to search for their ancestral roots, these tests may also help you prevent AMD or begin early treatment to combat macular degeneration. Through a simple genetic search, researchers look for two markers called CFH Y402H and ARMS2 A69S which are linked to an increased risk of developing macular degeneration. 

Healio Ocular Surgery News reported that, 

“A national cross-sectional study included nearly 3.5 million participants who used 23andMe, a direct-to-consumer genetic testing service. Researchers genotyped participants, with their consent, between 2013 and 2019 on custom Illumina genotyping arrays,Approximately 35% of participants exhibited the CFH Y402H allele and 23% of participants exhibited the ARMS2 A69S allele [gene formation].”

Genetic testing is the ‘new medicine’ approach that could have people experiencing better health and quality of life without invasive medications or surgery. For macular degeneration it is yet another way science can get ahead of this disease that robs millions of their sight each year.

In-home macular degeneration detection takes the fear out of the equation when dealing with a current affliction or preventing a future one. No longer will patients need to travel to their physician for every single test and no longer will patients be in the dark (literally) when they have a direct handle on how their sight is progressing. Also, it is always recommended to follow a high plant-based diet with plenty of dark green leafy vegetables to keep your retina strong, another easy in-home fix that may benefit you in more ways than just your sight.