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Retinal oedema

Retinal oedema is the clinical manifestation of many eye diseases, and consists of an abnormal accumulation of fluid within the retina, the innermost layer of the eye wall responsible for vision. This fluid oozes out of the capillaries as a result of a lack of oxygen in the retinal tissue or an inflammatory state.

The terms macular oedema or peripheral retinal oedema are used depending on which area of the retina is involved. Peripheral oedema may not manifest itself with specific symptoms, whereas macular oedema is associated with a more or less serious impairment of vision as it affects the macula, the most central part of the retina, which is responsible for detailed vision.

Visual impairments may present as a general blurring of vision, altered colour vision or distortion of images.

In addition to ageing or trauma to the eyeball, macular oedema mainly occurs as a complication of certain retinal diseases (such as venous occlusions, diabetic retinopathy...) or as a consequence of complex surgery.

Diabec-en Edema-maculare-en
Pathology image


The diagnosis of retinal oedema, in its two forms, macular or peripheral, is made by a medical specialist, the ophthalmologist, following a check-up and after a careful analysis of the ocular fundus, which can be further analysed through some specific examinations such as fluorangiography and optical coherence tomography (OCT).


Treatment of retinal oedema varies depending on the cause, location and extent of the situation.

Systemic drugs (cortisone, antibiotics, immunosuppressants, etc.) may be prescribed to treat the underlying pathology causing the oedema.

In the case of macular oedema, the specialist may prescribe pharmacological treatment based on intravitreal injections of drugs aimed at limiting the alterations in the blood vessels that release fluid in the retina.
Peripheral oedema can instead be treated with laser photocoagulation. Support with retinotrophic or anti-inflammatory supplements may also be useful.