Macular edema is the final common pathway of many intraocular and systemic insults. It may develop in a diffuse pattern where the macula appears generally thickened or it may acquire the characteristic petaloid appearance referred to as cystoid macular edema. Although macular edema may be associated with protean underlying conditions, it is most commonly seen following intraocular surgery, venous occlusive disease, diabetic retinopathy, and posterior segment inflammatory disease. As well as clinical suspicion, a wide range of investigations may lead to the diagnosis of macular edema. Fluorescein angiography and optical coherence tomography provide enhanced visualization of the geometry and distribution of macular edema. A variety of approaches to the treatment of macular edema have been attempted, with a variable degree of success. These options have included topical and systemic steroids, topical and oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and laser photocoagulation treatment. More recently other therapeutic modalities, including immunomodulators, intravitreal injection of triamcinolone, and pars plana vitrectomy have also been employed. Clinical trials are currently looking into the use of a steroid slow-release intravitreal device for the management of macular edema secondary to uveitis and diabetes. This article reviews the clinical entity of macular edema focusing on the current therapeutic strategies for its management.
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