What Is Macular Edema?

What Is Macular Edema?

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Macular edema normally produces alterations in central vision, such as lower intensity in colors or blurred vision. We describe why it happens.

Macular edema is a pathology that happens in the eye. Especially, in the macula, a particular area of ​​the retina. It is a somewhat common dilemma whose number has increased in recent years. It is one of the secondary problems of diabetes.

But, macular edema is not the only reason to produce this disease. On the opposite, its causes are varied. The problem is that it can severely harm vision. Overall, to the inner vision and the details. Do you want to explore what it is and how to treat it? Jump in!

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What is macular edema?

Before describing what macular edema is, it is essential to understand the retina and the macula. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue of the eye at the back of the eyeball.

Its role is to receive the rays of light and send the information in the form of electrical impulses that move within the optic nerve to the brain. In this way, the retina enables the vision process to take place. The macula is a special part of the retina that is accountable for central vision and discerning detail in objects.

Many blood vessels run close to the retina. When a person experiences macular edema, more fluid leakages through these blood vessels than usual. This fluid gathers around the macula, making it swell and twist vision.

Fluid build-up can happen when blood vessels are also penetrable than normal or their walls are more delicate. As the experts explain, macular edema is normally linked with diabetes. But, as previously noted, not all cases of macular edema are due to this disease.

Whatever the circumstances of macular edema, the appearance of this disease reduces vision; especially, central vision is weakened, and external vision, as a rule, is maintained.

Causes of macular edema

Although macular edema happens because fluid accumulates abnormally near the macula, the causative processes can be very different. We describe what they are.

Diabetic macular edema (DME)

Macular edema is one of the most popular diabetic eye obstacles. It is an event that normally follows diabetic retinopathy, a process that happens due to constant damage to the blood vessels.

This damage happens because of the absorption of glucose in the blood persists above normal over time. Consequently, it is more prevalent in people who have poor diabetes control.

According to data from the National Eye Institute, diabetic retinopathy is rated one of the main reasons for blindness and macular edema is ordinarily one of its symptoms.

On the other hand, research published in Annals d’Oftalmologia points out that the percentage of diabetic macular edema is not well known. But, its predominance is expected to be between 7.5% and 15% of all type 2 diabetics.

The fact is that edema can develop in any stage of retinopathy. But, it is more familiar as the damage progresses. Several factors also play a role in its growth, such as blood sugar levels or blood pressure.

Eye surgery

Macular edema can also be a result of surgery on the eye. Authorities from the American Academy of Opthalmology reveal that it may be secondary to surgery to treat glaucoma or cataracts. Despite this, it is not very popular. Besides, in these cases, it is normally mild edema and easy to treat.

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Macular degeneration associated with age

This pathology, as its name insinuates, is a degenerative method that affects the macula. It is prevalent in aging, as the ocular muscles, like the rest of the body, are sensitive to the passage of time.

What happens is that, in a particular kind of macular degeneration called “wet degeneration,” new and more delicate blood vessels start to increase into the retina. Therefore, it is possible that the fluid escapes more quickly and gathers around the macula, causing edema.

Blockage of blood vessels in the retina

Another reason for macular edema is the obstruction of the blood vessels that reduce the retina. Especially, it is more commonly due to an occlusion of the venous branch of the retina.

This vein can become obstructed due to various problems. For example, due to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or, also, due to diabetes. When this occurs, the fluid starts to leak and also expands on the macula.

We recommend you to read another article from Health Fuller, which is about Cat-Eye Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.

Other causes of macular edema

This pathology can be the outcome of many other eye ailments. For example, it may be due to an inflammatory process, such as uveitis. This pathology consists of the infection of the uvea, the middle layer among the retina and the sclera of the eye. Many blood vessels discovered In this layer.

According to the University of Navarra Clinic, uveitis can develop, in turn, in many systemic ailments. Some of them are psoriasis, Behcet’s disease, arthritis, Kawasaki disease, and so on.

What symptoms does it produce?

Macular edema habitually affects central vision. That is, vision becomes blurry when trying to focus on an object in the middle of the field of vision.

Moreover, it can also affect the colors. It is normal for people with macular edema to observe slightly faded colors. It is also normal to have trouble reading.

However, symptoms may not develop until fluid build-up is well advanced. On the other hand, the vision of the external fields, normally preserved. That is, you can notice something placed to the side, but not something placed in front of that person.

How to diagnose it?

The diagnosis of macular edema demands that the ophthalmologist conduct a series of tests to check both potential eye damages and the state of vision. Hence, one of the most widely adopted tests is the fundus.

The fundus, also termed ophthalmoscopy, is a test that enables you to see the retina and the macula. To do it, a pupillary dilation, normally done first, which permits this area to be seen more clearly. Also, the integrity of the blood vessels was witnessed.

Another major perspective in measuring visual acuity. Utilizing these tests, a drop in the quality of central vision can be seen. Besides, they help to check whether the external vision, protected, or not.

Other more particular tests are practiced when there is a powerful surmise of macular edema. One of them is fluorescein angiography. As detailed by the Innova Ocular clinic, this test consists of introducing a contrast (fluorescein) and reducing the ocular circulation.

Treatment of macular edema

Treatment of macular edema depends, first of all, on its purpose. It is essential to manage the underlying reason to prevent it from occurring again. For example, in the case of diabetic macular edema, these people must realize why it has occurred and follow strict blood glucose monitoring to prevent its appearance.

For the edema itself, several treatments have been produced that focus on stopping the extravasation of fluid through the blood vessels. One of the commonly used methods is the injection of anti-VEGF.

What is VEGF?

VEGF is a vascular endothelial growth agent: that is, a motive for the retinal blood vessels to increase. This is a dilemma, as the new glasses are more delicate.

Consequently, by injecting anti-VEGF new vessels do not develop. This decreases the danger of fluid leaking and accumulating around the macula. Injections, required from time to time for the treatment to be useful.

Another method is corticosteroids. They are drugs that decrease inflammation. For this purpose, they also develop the process that happens at the macular level. You can utilize it through drops or injections.

Remember: some causes of macular edema are preventable

It is essential to repeat that macular edema is intimately linked with diabetes, a pathology that can drive to blindness. For this purpose, people with diabetes must visit the ophthalmologist and medical check-ups regularly.

Furthermore, anyone who starts to notice vision changes should always discuss a specialist. Particularly if you have had any prior eye problems, such as cataracts or glaucoma.

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