Macular Edema

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    What is Macular Edema?

    Understanding About
    Macular Edema

    Macular Edema is a nonspecific sign or consequence of various intraocular and systemic conditions, leading to significant visual impairment. 

    Macular edema is characterized by localized swelling in the macular area, resulting in increased central retinal thickness. Initially, fluid accumulates in the outer plexiform layer (OPL) and/or the inner nuclear layer (INL), with swelling of Müller cells also observed. This fluid accumulation may involve intracellular and/or extracellular retinal spaces.

    The macula is particularly susceptible to edema due to its unique anatomical features. Factors predisposing the macula to edema include a high rate of fluid production due to its high cell count and metabolic activity, a low rate of extracellular fluid resorption owing to the presence of a central avascular zone, and the arrangement of the Henle fiber layer, which facilitates fluid accumulation in the region.

    Types of Macular Edema

    Different Types of
    Macular Edema

    Macular Edema FAQs

    Macular Edema
    Blurry vision and vision that gets worse over time are the main symptoms of macular edema.

    Macular edema happens when blood vessels leak into a part of the retina called the macula. This makes the macula swell, causing blurry vision.

    There are many different conditions that can cause macular edema. The most common one is diabetic retinopathy — an eye condition that causes vision loss in people with diabetes. When diabetic retinopathy causes macular edema, it’s called diabetic macular edema (DME).

    If you have diabetic retinopathy, managing your diabetes can help prevent or delay vision loss. It’s also important to get a dilated eye exam at least once a year.

    Eye doctors can check for macular edema as part of a dilated eye exam. The exam is simple and painless. Your doctor will give you some eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil and take a look at the retina.

    Macular edema is swelling in part of the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of your eye). People with macular edema may have blurry vision, but treatment can help reduce the swelling and prevent vision loss.

    NEI funds research that explores better ways to prevent and treat macular edema. Currently, NEI researchers are comparing different anti-VEGF drugs and studying alternatives to anti-VEGF treatment.

    NEI also funds research on diseases that cause macular edema, like diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion.