Macular Edema


Macular edema is swelling or thickening of the macula, a small area in the center of the retina that allows us to see fine details clearly. The swelling is caused by fluid leaking from retinal blood vessels, and is the most common cause of visual loss from diabetes. Vision loss from macular edema may be mild to severe, but even in the worst cases, peripheral (side) vision continues to function. Laser treatment and anti-VEGF injections (anti vascular endothelial growth factor) can be used to help control vision loss from macular edema. 

Because the macula is surrounded by many tiny blood vessels, anything that affects blood vessels elsewhere in the body (like diabetes) can cause macular edema as well.

Retinal blood vessel obstruction, eye inflammation, and age-related macular degeneration have all been associated with macular edema. The macula may also be affected by retinal swelling following cataract extraction, although this is less common.

Treatment seeks to remedy the underlying cause of the edema. Eyedrops, injections of steroids or other, newer medicines (anti-VEGF) in or around the eye, or laser surgery can be used to treat macular edema. Recovery depends on the severity of the condition causing the edema.

Macular ischemia
occurs when small blood vessels (capillaries) close. Vision blurs because the macula no longer receives sufficient blood supply to work properly. Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments for macular ischemia.

A medical eye examination is the only way to discover any changes inside your eye. If Dr. Haas finds diabetic retinopathy, he may order color photographs of the retina or a special test called optical coherence tomography (OCT) to find out if you need treatment.

Diabetic Macular Edema: