Important Facts About Macular Edema
Being healthy affects more than just the way we look. There are many benefits including lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Did you know, however, that, with these diseases, there are other accompanying complications? Other conditions can develop that affect your eyesight. One being macular edema. What is it? What causes it? Who is at risk? Can it be treated? These are all vital questions. Here are the facts about macular edema.
What is macular edema?
Macular edema is a build-up of fluid in the area in the center of the retina, called the macula. As a result, the fluid buildup causes the macula to swell, and thicken. The macula is responsible for your sharp, straight-ahead, detailed, central vision. The excess fluid and swelling can cause distorted vision.
What causes macular edema?
The specific cause of macular edema is abnormal leakage and accumulation of fluid in the macula. It is due to damaged blood vessels in the nearby retina. One of the most common sources of the condition is diabetic retinopathy, a disease that occurs in people with diabetes.
Macular edema can also occur after eye surgery, in association with age-related macular degeneration. In essence, any disease that damages blood vessels in the retina can cause it.
- The primary symptom of macular edema is blurry or wavy vision near or in the center of your field of vision.
- Colors might also appear washed out or faded.
- Symptoms ranging from slightly blurry vision to noticeable vision loss.
How is it diagnosed?
There are a series of exams that look for abnormalities in the retina.
- Visual Acuity Test
Commonly used to identify vision loss, especially as a result of macular edema. The test uses a standardized chart with rows of letters that decrease in size, from top to bottom. The doctor examines each eye separately.
- Dilated Eye Exam
This test allows your eye doctor to examine the retina more thoroughly. Hence, it gives additional information about the condition of the macula and helps detect the presence of blood vessel leakage or cysts.
- Fluorescein Angiogram
If another test indicates macular edema, your doctor may opt for fluorescein angiogram. Here, a dye is injected into your arm, and a camera records the retina as dye travels through blood vessels. It reports the severity of your condition.
- Optical Coherence Tomography
This test uses a special light and a camera for detailed views of the cell layers of the retina. It detects the thickness of the retina, and so it’s useful in determining the amount of swelling in the macula. Therefore, it helps your doctor to track the progress of your treatment.
Is it treatable?
Once diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe treatment according to the severity and type of condition. First of all, treatment will aim at the underlying causes, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, followed by treatment that addresses damage to the retina. There are a variety of methods of managing the disease ranging from laser to drug therapy. Therefore, consult with your eye care professional to determine the best course of action for you.
As we said earlier, a healthy lifestyle is important for so many reasons. Proper diet and exercise are your best defense against acquiring the underlying diseases that may cause this. If you have any questions or are concerned about macular edema, contact the professionals at Looking Glass Optical. Our knowledgeable and friendly team is here to help. Schedule an appointment today.