What Is the Treatment for Retinal Swelling?

Depending on the cause, treatment for retinal swelling may include observation, eye drops, injections or surgery, according to Dr. John Kitchens on the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart site. Possible causes of retinal swelling include diabetes, macular degeneration, vascular retinal occlusions and scar tissue on the retina.

Macular edema is a swelling of the macula, which is located the center of the retina, explains EyeSmart. It develops when retinal blood vessels leak fluids. Symptoms of the disorder include blurred or wavy central vision, with colors appearing washed out. Vision loss can range from mild to severe, but most patients maintain normal peripheral vision. If not properly treated, patients can experience total loss of vision.

Doctors use optical coherence tomography and fluorescein angiography to diagnose macular edema, according to EyeSmart. Optical coherence tomography measures the thickness of the retina and detects swelling, and fluorescein angiography images show whether or not blood vessels are leaking fluids.

Focal laser surgery can control leaking fluid in the eye and reduce retinal swelling, states EyeSmart. As of 2015, medication injection therapy using anti-VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor, agents and steroids shows promise in improving diabetic macular edema. Additionally, controlling blood sugar levels is a crucial component of diabetic macular edema treatment. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops are used to treat cystoid macular edema, and some patients require steroid eye drops or steroid injections.