Cystoid Macular Edema

Download a pamphlet on CME in English

Download a pamphlet on CME in Spanish

What is cystoid macular edema?

Cystoid macular edema (CME) occurs when abnormal fluid accumulates in the macula. This results in retinal thickening and the presence of cyst-like fluid collections that distort the normal retinal architecture.

CME can be caused by many different conditions including trauma, surgery, retinal vein occlusions, and inflammation of the eye. CME commonly occurs after eye surgery. This is likely related to inflammation. About 1-3% of all cataract surgery patients will experience decreased vision due to CME, usually within a few months of surgery.

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Disease Course & Treatment

The most common symptoms of CME are blurred or distorted central vision. Other symptoms may include dim vision or decreased sensitivity to light. Sometimes patients may have no symptoms at all. Your ophthalmologist may obtain multiple types of ocular imaging, including photography, ocular coherence tomography (OCT) and fluorescein angiography (FA) to facilitate diagnosis and treatment.

Depending on the cause of CME, treatment may include some of the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications including steroid and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications in the form of eye drops, pills, or injections
  • Intravitreal injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor medication
  • Surgery such as vitrectomy
  • Laser therapy

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and poorly controlled cholesterol can make CME worse and more difficult to treat. These cardiovascular risk factors should be optimally controlled under the guidance of your primary care physician.

Fortunately, most patients with CME can be successfully treated and vision often improves, although the healing process can be slow and take several months.

Causes of CME include:

  • Eye surgery
  • Retinal Vein Occlusion
  • Uveitis (inflammation of the eye)
  • Eye trauma
  • Side effects of some medication