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Macular Edema and Diabetes

Macular edema or the retinal thickening of the center of the macula due to leakage of plasma constituents into the surrounding retina is a complication of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy can have new blood vessels that grow on the surface of the retina which can swell and leak fluid. In layman’s term, these blood vessels can bleed into the eye and block vision. Once fluids or blood leaks into the center of the macula, the macula swells thus blurring one’s vision. Macular edema is characterized by blurred vision and occurs when the macula swells from leaking fluid from abnormal blood vessels in the retina surface.

Because of the risk of losing sight, Diabetic patients are advised to undergo a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year to prevent vision loss. This exam is a must since Macular edema can develop without symptoms and once a person develops macular edema, one is at high risk for vision loss.

Since diabetic macular edema is associated with diabetic retinopathy, the first approach to avoiding and preventing it is to control levels of blood sugar. However, if macular edema has already developed, the only way to treat it is through laser surgery called focal laser treatment. This involves burning the areas of retinal leakage surrounding the macula that will slow the fluid leakage of fluid and reduce the amount of fluid in the retina. The surgery is may be done in one session or a patient may need focal laser surgery more than once to control the leaking.

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