What is macular edema?

Macular edema is a disease that occurs in the eye. Specifically, in the macula, a specific area of ​​the retina. It is a fairly frequent problem whose incidence has increased in recent years since then it is one of the secondary problems of diabetes.

However, macular edema is not always caused by this disease. On the contrary, its causes are manifold. The problem is that it can seriously affect your vision. Especially to central vision and details. Do you want to find out what it consists of and how it is treated?

What is macular edema?

What Causes Watery Eyes?
Macular edema occurs when more fluid than normal leaks through blood vessels.

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

Its function is to receive light rays and transmit information in the form of electrical impulses that travel through the optic nerve to the brain. In this way, the retina enables the vision process. The macula is a specific part of the retina which is responsible for central vision and perception of the details of objects.

Numerous blood vessels run near the retina. When a person has macular edema, more fluid than normal leaks through these blood vessels. This fluid collects around the macula, causing it to swell and distort vision.

Fluid buildup can occur when blood vessels are more permeable than usual or their walls are thinner. As explained by the specialists in Macula Institute, macular edema is often associated with diabetes. However, as already noted, not all cases of macular edema are due to this disease.

Whatever the cause of macular edema, the presence of this disease affects vision; in particular, central vision is disturbed, and peripheral vision, as a rule, remains.

Causes of macular edema

Although macular edema occurs because fluid accumulates abnormally near the macula, the causal processes can be very varied. Let’s explain what they are.

Diabetic macular edema (DME)

Macular edema is one of the most common diabetic eye problems. It is an event that often accompanies diabetic retinopathya process that occurs due to continuous damage to blood vessels.

This damage occurs because the blood glucose concentration remains above normal over time. Here because, it is more common to occur in people who have poor control of their diabetes.

According to the data of National Eye Institutediabetic retinopathy is considered a leading cause of blindness and macular edema is usually one of its signs.

On the other hand, a study published in Annals of Ophthalmology indicates that the incidence of diabetic macular edema is not well known. However, its prevalence is estimated at between 7.5 and 15% of all type 2 diabetics.

The truth is, edema can appear at any stage of retinopathy. However, it is more frequent as the damage progresses. Some factors also influence its development, such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels.

eye surgery

Macular edema can also be a consequence of surgery performed on the eye. The experts of American Academy of Ophthalmology explains that it may be secondary to surgery to treat cataracts or glaucoma. However, it’s not very common. Furthermore, in these cases it is usually a mild and easy to treat edema.

Cataract in woman's eye.
One of the consequences of cataract surgery can be the appearance of macular edema.

Age-associated macular degeneration

This pathology, as the name suggests, is a degenerative process that affects the macula. It is common in aging, as eye tissue, like the rest of the body, is susceptible to aging.

What happens is, in a specific type of macular degeneration called “wet degeneration,” new, more fragile blood vessels begin to proliferate in the retina. Therefore, fluid may leak more easily and accumulate around the macula, causing edema.

Retinal blood vessel blockage.

Another cause of macular edema is blockage of the blood vessels that drain the retina. Specific, it is most frequently due to branch retinal vein occlusion.

This vein can become blocked due to a number of problems. For example, from atherosclerosis, hypertension or, even, from diabetes. When this happens, fluid begins to leak out and also builds up on the macula.

Other causes of macular edema

This pathology can be a consequence of many other eye diseases. For example, it may be due to an inflammatory process, such as uveitis. This pathology consists of inflammation of the uvea, the intermediate layer between the retina and the sclera of the eye. There are many blood vessels in this layer.

As explained by the Clinic of the University of NavarraUveitis can, in turn, appear in many systemic disorders. Some of those are Behcet’s disease, psoriasis, Kawasaki disease, arthritis, etc.

What symptoms does it produce?

macular edema It usually affects central vision. That is, vision becomes blurry when trying to focus on an object that is in the center of the field of view.

Moreover, colors can also be affected. It is common for people with macular edema to see slightly washed out colors. It is also common for there to be difficulties in reading.

However, symptoms may not appear until the fluid buildup is advanced enough. Moreover, peripheral field vision is generally preserved. That is, you can see something set aside, but not something placed in front of that person.

How is it diagnosed?

The diagnosis of macular edema requires that the ophthalmologist perform a series of tests to verify both possible eye lesions and the state of vision. Here because, One of the most used tests is the fundus.

The ocular fundus, also called ophthalmoscopy, is an examination that allows you to observe the retina and the macula. To do this, pupil dilation is usually done first, which allows you to see this area more clearly. Also, the integrity of blood vessels is observed.

Another fundamental aspect is to measure visual acuity. These tests can objectify the decrease in the quality of central vision. In addition, they help verify whether peripheral vision is preserved or not.

There are other more specific tests that are used when there is a strong suspicion of macular edema. One of them is fluorescein angiography.. As detailed by the Innova Ocular clinicthis test consists in injecting a contrast medium (fluorescein) and checking how the ocular circulation is going.

Treatment of macular edema

Treatment of macular edema depends primarily on its cause. It is important to treat the underlying cause to prevent it from happening again. For example, in the case of diabetic macular edema, it is essential that these people understand why it happened and follow strict blood sugar control to prevent its onset.

For edema itself, a number of treatments have been developed that focus on preventing fluid from leaking into the blood vessels. One of the most used techniques is the injection of anti-VEGF.

VEGF is a vascular endothelial growth factor: that is, a stimulus for the proliferation of retinal blood vessels. This is a problem, as the new glasses are more fragile.

For this reason, injecting anti-VEGF prevents new vessels from growing. This reduces the risk of fluid leakage and pooling around the macula. Injections are needed every so often for treatment to be effective.

Another treatment is corticosteroids. They are drugs that reduce inflammation. For this reason they also improve the process that takes place at the macular level. They can be applied via drops or injections.

Remember: some causes of macular edema are preventable

It is important to underline once again that macular edema is closely associated with diabetes, a disease which can cause blindness. Therefore, it is essential that People with diabetes often go to the eye doctor and for medical checkups.

Similarly, anyone who begins to notice vision disturbances should do so always consult a specialist. Especially if you have had a previous eye problem, such as glaucoma or cataracts.

The post What is macular edema? first appeared on research-school

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