Macular Edema

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Cystoid Macular Edema

What is the Macula?

Before you can get a solid understanding of macula edema it is important to get an idea of what the macula is all about. The macula is the part of the retina that provides you with your sharpest central vision. A normal, healthy macula allows you to see objects clearly. The interior of the back part of the eye is lined with a wall paper like structure known as the retina. This layer of tissue acts a lot like film in a camera but also transmits images to the optic nerve.(which then sends to brain) – The macula is a very small area at the center of the retina. This is a thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye.

What is Macular Edema?

Macular edema is swelling or thickening of the eye’s macula, the part of your eye responsible for detailed, central vision.

What is Diabetic Macular Edema?

When long-standing diabetes damages the delicate blood vessels within the retina, they leak fluid into the surrounding tissues. Sometimes, this happens in the center of the retina and the macula itself becomes swollen. When this occurs, we call the swelling diabetic macular edema.

What causes macular edema?

There are various ways that cystoid macular edema develop. Patients with diabetic retinopathy are at risk for developing CME as well as those with uveitis and retinal vascular disease. There are also reported cases of CME in patients who have had recent eye surgeries like cataract surgery. When a patient develops this after cataract surgery post operative inflammation may cause the vessels in the center of the retina to leak. Swelling and distorted vision will result when the leaking of the blood vessels begins.

Diagnosing Macular Edema

During routine dilated eye exams our eye doctors may detect central swelling. Depending on the amount of fluid that has leaked these spots may be easy or hard to detect. A fluorescein angiography procedure is conducted where sodium fluorescien dye is injected into an arm or hand and then retina photographs are taken. If there are any abnormalities on the retina, the dye will usually reveal them by leaking, staining or by its inability to get through blocked blood vessels.

Macular Edema Treatment

The treatment of cystoid macular edema may include one or more of the following:

  • Ocular steroid eye drops to decrease swelling
  • Injection of ocular steroids around the eye to reduce swelling
  • Oral anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Surgery to remove excess fluid from the center of the eye (vitrectomy)

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