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What is Macular Edema?

The macula is the central part of your retina, allowing you to read and see in great detail. A healthy macula allows precise vision for activities such as reading, driving, or recognizing the fine details in faces and objects. Macular edema refers to fluid or swelling of the retinal tissues that make up the macula.

Desert Retina Consultants retina specialists provide treatment for macular edema no matter the cause. Macular edema may be caused by diabetes, hypertension, macular degeneration, and ocular inflammation. 

Macular edema is another word for macular swelling. Macular edema comes from leaky blood vessels that course below or within the retinal layers. On a microscopic level, abnormal retinal blood vessel walls allow fluid to pass from the bloodstream into the retina, distorting the standard retinal architecture.

The macula is the central part of your retina that allows precise vision for activities such as reading, driving, or recognizing the fine details in faces and objects.

What are the symptoms of Macular Edema?

Macular edema is not painful and doesn’t always have symptoms early on in the disease. However, symptoms generally occur along with complications, such as leaking blood vessels – or vein occlusion. If you notice symptoms, call our office for an appointment

Common symptoms of macular edema include:

  • Blurred or wavy central vision
  • Colors appear washed out or different
  • Having difficulty reading

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How is Macular Edema Treated?

Treatments for Macular Edema at Desert Retina Consultants include:

  • Annual vision monitoring with dilated eye exams
  • Eye Drops: In most cases, macular edema after eye surgeries or eye inflammations can be successfully treated with eye drops.
  • Laser treatments
  • Intra-vitreal or peri-ocular injections of steroids (in selective cases)
  • Intra-vitreal injections – Anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs into the vitreous cavity (retina location) can be a highly effective treatment for macular edema. Most patients require a series of injections, so they require periodic monitoring to evaluate when additional treatments with anti-VEGF agents are needed.

FAQ: Macular Edema

What are the risk factors for Macular Edema?

  • Duration of diabetes — the longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of developing diabetic macular edema (DME)
  • Recent eye surgery
  • Uncontrolled high blood sugars
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy

Macula edema itself rarely leads to total blindness. However, you may notice distorted or blurred vision with this condition. If you see wavy lines or distorted images, call our office for an exam!

Like so many eye conditions, when diagnosed and treated, early macular edema can be treated successfully to prevent long-term vision loss. Our retina specialists will work with you to improve the underlying condition causing it and help you work toward a gradual recovery from the situation.


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Serving patients in Palm Desert, Palm Springs and Riverside areas.