Macular Edema

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Macular edema is swelling of the macula, the small area of the retina responsible for central vision, of which the central 5% of the retina is most critical to vision. The edema is caused by fluid leaking from retinal blood vessels into the macula. Blood leaks out of the weak vessel walls into a very small area of the macula which is rich in cones, the nerve endings that detect color and from which daytime vision depends. Blurring occurs in the middle or just to the side of the central visual field, it can appear like one is looking through cellophane. Visual loss may progress over a period of months, and can be very annoying because of the inability to focus clearly.

Self Help & Tips

macular edema diagram

Because the macula is surrounded by many tiny capillaries, any conditions affecting the blood circulation anywhere in the body or in the eye can cause macular edema. Retinal capillary obstruction, inflammation of the eye, and age-related macular degeneration have all been associated with macular edema. The macula may also be affected by swelling following cataract surgery, but this normally resolves itself naturally.

ME rarely causes a permanent loss of vision, but the recovery is often a slow, gradual process over 2 to 15 months.


  • Central vision that seems blurry
  • Vision is distorted, for example, straight lines may look wavy, especially when viewing the amsler grid
  • Our vision seems pinkish looking
  • We are more sensitive to bright light and glare.


Conventional Treatment

The first line of treatment for CME is usually anti-inflammatory drops. In certain cases, medication is injected near the back of the eye for a more concentrated effect. Oral medications are sometimes prescribed to reduce the swelling.

Macular Edema News

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