What is Macular Edema?

Macular Edema is a condition that results in swelling or thickening of the eye’s macula – the part of the eye responsible for detailed, central vision.

Macula is a very small area at the center of the retina—a thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Light rays are focused on the retina, where they are transmitted to the brain and interpreted as the images you see. It is the macula that is responsible for your pinpoint vision, allowing you to read, sew or recognize a face.

Leaking of fluids in the blood vessels of the retina, results in the development of macular Edema. A swollen macula does not function properly. Vision loss could range from being mild to severe, but in many cases, does not affect the peripheral vision.

Macular edema is often a complication of diabetic retinopathy, many a times diabetic retinopathy results in complications such as macular edema, and is the most common form of vision loss for people with diabetes—more so if left untreated. (AAO)


Causes of Macular Edema

Macular Edema occurs when there is abnormal leakage and accumulation of fluid in the macula from damaged blood vessels in the retina. Eye surgery, in association with age-related macular degeneration, or as a consequence of inflammatory diseases that affect the eye can also lead to the development of macular edema. Any disease that damages blood vessels in the retina can cause macular edema.

Some of the other macular edema causes include:

  • Uveitis
  • Occlusion of retinal vein
  • Macular degeneration with age
  • Radiation, macular telangiectasis related blockage in the small veins of the retina
  • Medication side-effects
  • Certain genetic disorders, such as retinoschisis or retinitis pigmentosa


Symptoms of Macular Edema

Macular edema is often painless and may display few symptoms when it develops. When symptoms do occur, they are a sign that the blood vessels in your eye may be leaking.

Symptoms of macular edema may include:

  • Blurred of wavy central vision
  • Colours appear washed out or changed

If you have macular edema symptoms, you should see an ophthalmologist right away. If left untreated, macular edema can cause severe vision loss and even blindness. (AAO).


Diagnosis of Macular Edema

To diagnose macular edema, eye care professional will conduct a thorough eye exam and look for abnormalities in the retina. The following tests may be done to determine the location and extent of the disease:

Visual acuity test: A visual acuity test is a common way to identify vision loss and can help to diagnose vision loss as a result of macular edema.

Dilated eye exam: A dilated eye exam is used to more thoroughly examine the retina. It gives additional information about the condition of the macula and helps detect the presence of blood vessel leakage or cysts.

Fluorescein angiogram: If earlier tests indicate the possibility of having macular edema, the eye care professional may perform a fluorescein angiogram test to identify the amount of damage to the macula.

Optical coherence tomography: This test detects the thickness of the retina and so it’s useful in determining the amount of swelling in the macula.

The Amsler Grid: The Amsler Grid provides an easy way to test whether or not the central vision has changed. It can recognize even small changes in the vision.


Macular Edema Treatment

Since macular edema is caused by the thickening and swelling of the macula, macular edema treatment at Sanjeevan focuses on reducing the swelling of the macula by improving the blood circulation and oxygenation of the macula. With our treatment we also help improve the overall health of the retinal blood vessels which help in stoppage of leaking of fluid responsible for the edema. We also prescribe certain anti-inflammatory supplements which also help reduce the edema along with our treatment. Patients suffering from diabetic macular edema are also treated for controlling their diabetes along with the treatment of macular edema.

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