Swollen Macula

Swelling types   Symptoms   Causes   Self help   More tips   About central vision   Conventional treatment

Swelling of the macula damages the area of the retina responsible for central vision. The macula contains a high concentration of cones which are the photoreceptors that give us the ability to focus on details and see color. The tiny fovea "pit" located at the center of the macula contains only cones.If protein and/or fluid deposits collect under the macula, it can thicken and swell and push into disorder or degrade the cone receptors.

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Types of Macular swelling

macular edema diagram There are several types of macular edema. Cystoid macular edema occurs when fluid accumulates in the area where the cone nerve endings synapse (connect) to bipolar cells and is enclosed in a cyst. In patients with diabetes leaking capillaries can also occur in the macula; this is known as diabetic macular edema. This is the most common type of vision loss for people with diabetes (75%) if untreated.

Focal macular swelling arises from swelling in the center of the macula where the fovea is located. Diffuse macular edema occurs when other capillaries in the retina are swollen.


If you have these symptoms, your ophthalmologist can do a test called a fluorescein angiography or optical coherence tomography to accurately determine whether capillaries are leaking and if so, how severe the leakage is. These tests also measure how thick your retina is and the degree of swelling.

  • Fuzzy central vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Vision has pink tinge
  • Sensitivity to light


Usually the cause is that tiny retina capillaries leak from weak vessel walls into the center of the macula. The patient perceives fogginess in the middle or just to the side of the central visual field, The loss of vision can occur slowly. It rarely causes an enduring loss of vision, but can take 2 to 15 months to heal. Sometimes macular swelling can occur after cataract or other surgery but is, with treatment, usually of temporary duration.

Conventional Treatment

Treatment for swollen macula conditions may be oral medications, anti-inflammatory drops or medication is injected near the back of the eye.

Self Help

Swelling types   Symptoms   Causes   Self help   More tips   About central vision   Conventional treatment