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Macular Edema

Swelling of the macula


Macular edema is a condition in which the macula swells with fluid. The macula is a small area of the retina responsible for acute, straight-ahead vision. The edema is caused by fluid leaking from retinal blood vessels. Anything affecting blood vessels surrounding the macula, such as a general blood vessel disorder or a medical condition originating in the eye, can cause macular edema.

Risk factors

Macular edema is most common in those with diabetes, retinal vein occlusion, macular degeneration, eye inflammation, idiopathic central serous chorioretinopathy, anterior or posterior uveitis, pars planitis, retinitis pigmentosa, radiation retinopathy, and posterior vitreous detachment. Some patients may have a history of use of topical epinephrine or prostaglandin analogs for glaucoma. Controlling blood sugar may prevent one type of macular edema.


Macular edema affects close detail vision, used in activities such as reading. Symptoms include:

  • Blurred central vision

  • Distorted vision (straight lines may appear wavy)

  • Vision is tinted pink

  • Light sensitivity


Treatment is directed toward the underlying cause of the edema. Eye drops, cortisone shots or laser surgery can be used to treat macular edema. Recovery depends on the severity of the underlying condition. Additionally, injections of the drug Lucentis have recently been approved as a treatment for macular edema.

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