While many conditions can cause macular edema, it is frequently associated with diabetic retinopathy.

What is Macular Edema?

Macular edema is a swelling or thickening of the macula, a very small but important area at the center of the retina that is responsible for detailed central vision. This swelling occurs in response to fluid leaking from blood vessels in the retina.

While many conditions can cause macular edema, it is frequently associated with diabetic retinopathy. In fact, macula edema is the most common cause of vision loss for people with diabetes, particularly if it is left untreated. Macular edema can cause mild to severe vision loss, but regardless of the severity, you will likely retain side (peripheral) vision.

What causes Macular Edema?

While diabetic retinopathy is a main cause of macular edema, other conditions and factors can lead to this condition:

  • Eye surgery, including cataract surgery. Macular edema that develops after cataract surgery is called cystoid macular edema (CME).
  • Age-related macular degeneration

  • Uveitis

  • Retinal vein occlusion

  • Blockage in the small veins of the retina due to radiation therapy

  • Certain medications

  • Certain genetic disorders, such as retinoschisis and retinitis pigmentosa