Read more about Diabetic Retinopathy

About 746,000 Americans over 40 years old suffer from diabetic macular edema. Because this condition is so common it is extremely helpful for optometrists to have the most advanced technology available to diagnose and treat macular edema.

OCT stands for optical coherence tomography. The OCT is really great for more than just diagnosing macular edema; it can also be used to monitor any progression or determine how the patient is responding to treatment.

How can OCT be used for diagnosing and treating OCT?

What we have specifically is the Maestro OCT, or optical coherence tomography. This is a non-invasive imaging test that uses light waves to create a very detailed image of the back of the eye. It enables us to see all of the distinct layers of the retina.

This can also be used to measure how much swelling occurs in the macula by specifically zoning in on it. We can actually measure and quantify the thickness of the retina and of that macular region where there may be some sort of macular edema, and typically it will show up as some cystic black spaces in that area.

Additionally, the OCT can also be used to monitor any progression of macular edema or to see how the patient is responding to treatment. When it comes to macular edema, it's important to get treated right away so that we can reduce the swelling.

The typical treatment is to inject different injections into the affected area in order to reduce swelling. When the patient returns for follow-up, we will take another OCT image and see how well they are responding to treatment and how well they are healing, since we have baseline photos and compare them to the following photos.

What is macular edema?

Macular edema is the buildup of fluid underneath the macula. The macula is the central portion of the back part of your eye responsible for sharp vision. As the fluid builds up underneath the macula, it swells and thickens.

What are the symptoms of macular edema?

You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Distortions in your vision
  • Blurry vision that can range from just a slight blur to a very noticeable loss of vision
  • A sudden increase in eye floaters
  • The colours appear faded or washed out

What are the causes of macular edema?

One of the causes of macular edema is damage to the blood vessels in the nearby retina, causing fluid leakage to accumulate underneath the macula, causing macular edema.

There are some medical conditions that result in weak blood vessels that are more prone to damage. Some of these conditions include:

  • If you have diabetes, for example, you are more susceptible to diabetic retinopathy.
  • If you have high blood pressure
  • if you have macular degeneration
  • Or if you have any disease that damages the blood vessels in the retina

How is macular edema diagnosed?

During a macular edema evaluation, we check your acuities and your vision. After we dilate your eyes, we use a magnifying lens to inspect the back part of the eye and your macula to determine if there is any swelling.

In addition to this method, we also have several other technologies in our office that help us see the back part of the eye and to assess the macula as well.

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