Is Macular Edema Serious?

Macular edema is a swelling or thickening of the eye’s macula, the part of the eye responsible for detailed, central vision.

The macula is a very small area at the center of the retina—a thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Light rays are focused onto the retina, where they are transmitted to the brain and interpreted as the images you see.

Macular edema develops when fluid or protein deposits collect on or under the macula of the eye and cause it to thicken and swell (edema). The macula does not function properly when it is swollen. The swelling may distort a person’s central vision because the macula holds tightly packed cones that provide sharp, clear, central vision to enable a person to see detail, form and color that is directly in the center of the field of view. 

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, diabetes 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.

If you have symptoms of macular edema such as blurry or distorted central vision, you should have your eyes checked right away. Macular edema rarely causes a permanent loss of vision and can usually be easily treated, but the recovery is often a slow, gradual process. Though the condition is typically not considered serious, it can be a sign or symptom of a more serious health problem that may need to be addressed.  Depending on the cause of the macular edema and the treatment plan recommended by your doctor, the condition may take several months to resolve. To learn more about macular edema, contact Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or associatedretinaconsultants.com.

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