When this happens, your retina will start to swell, which can cause you to lose vision.
This swelling is called macular edema. It can also cause flashes of light in your vision. These flashes are called floaters.
Flashes are most likely to happen when you first lose vision in one eye. They can last from a few hours to a few days.
If you have macular edema, you might also notice:
- Flashes of light
- Floaters in your vision
- Blurred or double vision
- Vision loss
How is this treated?
Your treatment plan will depend on the cause of your eye condition.
The most common treatment for macular edema is changing your diet or taking supplements to lower your blood sugar levels.
You can also try any of these treatments:
- Eye drops to help dilate (open) your blood vessels
- Eye drops to prevent blood from backing up into your eyes
- Eye injections to reduce swelling
- Laser eye surgery to remove fluid and scar tissue from your eyes
- A special eye patch to apply pressure to your retina
Some people may need more than one treatment. Your doctor can advise you on the best plan.
How can I prevent macular edema?
It’s difficult to prevent macular edema, but you can take steps to delay or reduce the symptoms.
Eating a healthy diet can lower your blood sugar levels. And if you smoke, quitting can help.
If you have diabetes, you should test your blood sugar regularly. That can help you keep your blood glucose levels between 85 and 130 milligrams per deciliter.
This is the range considered healthy for people with diabetes.
If you don’t have diabetes, your doctor might recommend a different range.
Other steps you can take to avoid macular edema include:
- Not smoking
- Taking your diabetes medications as prescribed
- Having retinal exams regularly
- Checking for signs of eye disease
If you’re having trouble seeing, you may want to consider a special eye patch.
You can purchase these patches at most pharmacies. They’re available in both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) versions.
A study published in 2018 found that there are several types of eye patches that can help treat people with macular edema.
- Anti-inflammatory eye patches. These patches contain a drug called dexamethasone. It helps reduce inflammation in your eyes.
- Fluid-absorbing eye patches. These patches help keep your eyes moist.
- Fluid-retaining eye patches. These patches contain a drug called acetazolamide. It improves blood circulation in your eyes.
These patches come in several different forms. Some contain a combination of three types of drug. Others contain one type of drug only.
Your doctor might also suggest changing the lenses of your prescription glasses or contact lenses. This can help you see more clearly.
What’s the long-term outlook?
Most people with macular edema will eventually see some improvement in their vision. But it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you have any symptoms.
The sooner you get treatment, the better your chances of long-term visual improvement.
If your symptoms don’t improve, it’s important to see your doctor for a regular checkup. They’ll be able to monitor your symptoms and make sure they don’t get worse.
They can also advise you on any changes you can make to your diet or lifestyle that might help with macular edema.
Some people with macular edema will also develop cataracts, or cloudiness in their vision.
To help prevent cataracts, your doctor might recommend that you:
- Limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking
- Take your diabetes medications as prescribed
- Have regular dilated eye exams
Outlook depends on the cause of your symptoms
Macular edema is a common condition. It can cause vision changes that range from mild to severe.
Most people will see some improvement in their vision after a few months. But it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you have any symptoms.
Your outlook depends on the cause of your symptoms, and your doctor can advise you on the best treatment plan for you.
Are there complications?
Macular edema can cause vision changes that range from mild to severe.
These changes can include:
- Blurred vision
- Decreased vision
- Temporary or permanent vision loss
If you have macular edema, you’re at risk of developing cataracts, which can affect your vision.
Cataracts can cause:
- Blurry vision
- Visual distortion
- Double vision
If you develop cataracts, you’ll need regular dilated eye exams.
Your doctor can also recommend other treatments to help you maintain your vision:
- Lens replacement
- Spectacle or contact lenses
- Laser eye surgery
- Special eye patches
You can also help prevent cataracts by:
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Keeping your blood sugar levels between 85 and 130 milligrams per deciliter
- Having regular dilated eye exams
Can I prevent macular edema?
You can take steps to prevent macular edema. These include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Not using tobacco products
- Having your diabetes treated
- Getting regular dilated eye exams
If you develop macular edema, you can help prevent cataracts by:
- Limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking
- Having regular dilated eye exam
- Seeing an ophthalmologist regularly
When should I call my doctor?
You should call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- The vision in your field of vision starts to blur
- When reading, you can’t see the letters on the screen clearly
- You can’t see the edges of your letters
- You can’t see the letters
The bottom line
Macular edema can cause floaters and flashes of light in your vision.
These symptoms can be a sign that your blood glucose levels are too high or that you’re not getting enough
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