Macular edema is a condition where fluid builds up in the eye’s macula. Left untreated, it can cause vision loss. Anyone can develop this condition; however, older adults, and especially those with diabetes, are most at risk. Knowledge is power, so here are a few things you should be aware of about this condition that could save your eyesight.
The fluid build-up that occurs with macular edema occurs when fluid leaks from damaged blood vessels in the retina and accumulates in the macula. One of the most common causes of this condition is diabetic retinopathy, which can occur in people with diabetes. The edema may also occur along with age-related macular degeneration or with an inflammatory disease, like that might affect the eyes.
Fluid can also build up in the macula after any type of eye surgery, such as cataract, glaucoma or retinal surgery. In this instance, the fluid back-up will typically occur within a few weeks of the surgery. The good news is that it can be easily treated with eye drops and occurs in only 1-3% of surgery patients.
Symptoms to Be Aware Of
The most common symptom of macular edema is blurry or wavy vision occurring close to or in the center of the vision field. It may appear that colors are faded or washed out. Those with the condition may experience slightly blurry vision while others may have a noticeable vision loss. Unfortunately, if only one eye is affected, you might not notice there is a problem until it becomes more advanced.
Treating Macular Edema
The earlier macular edema is diagnosed, the better for the patient. It can be detected during a dilated eye exam that allows your eye doctor to examine your retina better. It may also be diagnosed with a visual acuity test. The primary treatment to treat the edema is an intravitreal injection, which is a painless procedure. Where the edema is caused by an inflammatory disease, it may be treated with corticosteroid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) treatments.
If you are diagnosed with macular edema, your treatment will depend on its underlying cause. For example, if you are having difficulty managing your diabetes, that may need to be addressed with your other doctors besides treating your eye(s).
Your best defense against detecting serious eye conditions like macular edema is to have a comprehensive eye exam every year. Call Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700 to schedule your next exam.