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Cystoid Macular Edema

What is Cystoid Macular Edema?

Cystoid macular edema, commonly called CME, is a painless disorder which affects the retina, the light-sensitive inner lining of the eye. When this condition is present, clear fluid fills multiple cyst-like (cystoid) formations in the macula, the portion of the retina responsible for central or “straight ahead” vision. This creates macular swelling, or edema. Although the exact causes of CME are not known, it may accompany a variety of diseases such as retinal vein occlusion, uveitis or diabetes. It most commonly occurs after cataract surgery. About three percent of those who have cataract extractions will experience decreased vision due to CME in the first year, usually from two to four months after surgery. If the disorder appears in one eye, there is an increased risk – as high as 50% - that it will also affect the second eye. Fortunately, however, most patients recover their vision after some time.

What are the symptoms of CME?

The most common symptom of cystoid macular edema is blurred or decreased central vision (CME does not affect peripheral or side vision). There may also be painless retinal inflammation or swelling. However, the condition may be present even when no visual loss occurs. In these cases it is diagnosed by Dr. D. after a thorough medical examination, usually using a photographic test called a fluorescein angiogram.

How can CME be treated?

The main goal of treatment for CME is to reduce the retinal swelling. This is accomplished by using drops in most cases. Two classes of drops are used, steroids and NSAIDS. If these prove ineffective, then oral medications may be used or an injection may be employed to decrease the swelling. Since many factors can lead to CME, it is not possible to say which treatment, if any, will prove effective. This condition heals relatively slowly, and may take as long as 4-6 months for the medications to fully resolve the retinal swelling. The good news is that most patients do respond to the medications.

If the vitreous (the clear, gel-like substance that fills the center of the eye) is believed to be the source of the problem, laser surgery might be recommended. Another procedure called a vitrectomy can be used to suction the vitreous out of the eye and replace it with a clear solution.  In some cases, the swelling and inflammation which accompanies CME can bring on glaucoma, a disorder which often occurs due to increased pressure within the eye. When this happens, the glaucoma must be treated with appropriate medications to reduce the pressure.  A great deal of research is presently being conducted to determine the causes of cystoid macular edema. Hopefully, this research will lead to more exact prevention and treatment measures in the near future.

Why are regular eye examinations important for everyone?

Eye disease can strike at any age. Many disorders, like CME, do not always produce immediate symptoms. Since most serious vision loss is preventable if diagnosed and treated early, regular examinations by Dr. D. are very important.

Vision Self Test
  • The lines in the box should be straight and all the little boxes should be square. Check one eye at a time. Look at the center dot.

  • The Numbers should be clear all the way down to the D-20 line at 14 inches. If you have poor vision in one or both eyes, make sure that it is not getting worse. If your vision is not perfect or is getting worse, call SEECA at 1-985-853-0900

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