The standard treatment for retinal edema is topically applied NSAIDs, according to the Review of Ophthalmology. These drugs reduce the levels of prostaglandins inside the eye, which may contribute to macular edema, especially if the macular edema develops after cataract surgery.
Prostaglandins, substances that resemble hormones, control how muscles relax and contract and how blood vessels dilate and narrow, according to MedicineNet.
The drugs most often used to treat post-surgery macular edema are small amounts of indomethacin, flurbiprofen, ketorolac and diclofenac, states the Review of Ophthalmology. These drugs are even more effective when combined with topical corticosteroids. Corticosteroids, given topically, injected into the eye, taken intravenously or taken orally, are especially good at reducing inflammation and supporting the blood to retina barrier in the eye. However, they also put the patient at risk for serious complications and are usually only options if the patient is at risk of blindness. If the treatment of corticosteroids and NSAIDs fails, patients receive acetazolamide, taken orally, reports the Review of Ophthalmology.
Patients with retinal edema that is a complication of diabetes use triamcinolone acetonide, says the Review of Ophthalmology. This drug targets the vitreous humor of the eye, which is the semi-liquid substance that gives the eyeball its shape, according to Hyperphysics. Triamcinolone acetonide usually lasts between three and six months, but re-injection is possible.