Understanding Macular Edema: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Macular edema is a swelling or thickening of the macula, a part of the retina, which can cause vision distortion and impacts central vision clarity.
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Retinal Disorders | Macular Degeneration | Macular Swelling | Retinal Thickening | Central Vision Impairment
Prepared by Lee Cheng, reviewed by Jane Cox

Macular Edema FAQ

Image credit: eyewiki.aao.org

What causes macular edema after eye surgery?

Blocked veins in the retina (retinal vein occlusion). When veins in the retina are blocked, blood can’t drain the way it should and it leaks into the macula — which can cause swelling. Learn more about central retinal vein occlusion. Eye surgery. Some people develop macular edema after having surgery to treat another eye condition, like cataracts.

What is macular edema?

Macular edema is the buildup of fluid in the macula, an area at the back of the eye. This fluid causes the macula to swell and thicken, which distorts vision. Learn about the causes and symptoms of macular edema, how it’s diagnosed and treated, and what research is being done.

How do you know if you have macular edema?

Trauma to the eye. Macular edema is painless and usually doesn’t have symptoms when you first get it. When you do have symptoms, they are a sign that the blood vessels in your eye may be leaking. If you notice any macular edema symptoms, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

What causes macular oedema?

Macular oedema can occur in common retinal diseases such as wet macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion and also in rare conditions such as retinal dystrophies. It can also occur as a result of inflammation following eye surgery, trauma or inflammatory conditions of the retina. What are the symptoms?

How does macular edema affect vision?

Macular edema causes vision to be distorted and blurred. It can also make objects appear bigger or smaller, change their color and make them appear dull. In severe cases, central vision is completely blocked out. If it occurs in one eye, the other eye may take over, and the edema is only detected when the good eye is covered.

Can macular edema cause permanent vision loss?

Macular edema happens when fluid builds up in the macula, causing swelling. This can distort vision, making things look blurry and colors look washed out. Without treatment, macular edema can even lead to permanent vision loss. Macular edema is caused by pockets of fluid (usually leakage from damaged blood vessels) swelling up in the macula .

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