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Macular Edema

What is Macular Edema?

Macular edema is the build-up of fluid in the macula, an area in the center of the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye and the macula is the part of the retina responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. Fluid buildup causes the macula to swell and thicken, which distorts vision.

Why Does Macular Edema Occur?

Macular edema occurs when there is abnormal leakage and accumulation of fluid in the macula from damaged blood vessels in the retina. Macular edema oftens occurs in patients with diabetic retinopathy or wet age-related macular degeneration and results in blurry or distorted vision near the center. Another form of macular edema, known as cystoid macular edema, may occur in patients status-post eye surgeries.

Is there treatment?

Treatment for macular edema is determined by the type of macular edema you have. The most effective treatment strategies first aim at the underlying cause of macular edema, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, and then directly treat the damage in the retina.

The current standard of care for macular edema is intravitreal injection. During this painless procedure, numbing drops are applied to the eye, and a short thin needle is used to inject medication into the vitreous gel. The medication blocks the activity of a substance called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) to prevent the promotion of blood vessel growth and slow the progress of macular edema.

If the macular edema is caused by inflammatory eye disease, your ophthalmologist may administer a sustained-release corticosteroid implant (Ozurdex or Iluvien).

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