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cme w inset

In this retinal photograph, the swelling is the yellowish spots (arrow) in the macula.

Cystoid macular oedema (CME), or swelling of the macula, typically occurs as a result of disease, injury or more rarely, eye surgery. Fluid collects within the layers of the macula, causing blurred, distorted central vision. CME rarely causes a permanent loss of vision, but the recovery is often a slow, gradual process. The majority of patients recover in 2 to 15 months.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Blurred central vision
  • Distorted vision (straight lines may appear wavy)
  • Vision is tinted pink
  • Light sensitivity

Detection and Diagnosis

It is very difficult to detect CME during a routine examination. A diagnosis is often based on the patient's symptoms and a special dye test called a fluorescein angiogram (FA).


The first line of treatment for CME is usually anti-inflammatory drops. In certain cases, medication is injected near the back of the eye for a more concentrated effect. Oral medications are sometimes prescribed to reduce the swelling.

Illustrations by Mark Erickson
With acknowledgement to St. Lukes Eye Hospital.

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