RETINAL VASCULAR CYSTOID MACULAR EDEMA: Review and New Theory

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Abstract

Retinal vascular disease has the potential to affect hundreds of millions of people, with the inherent risk of vision loss related to cystoid macular edema. Although there have been histologic evaluation of eyes having cystoid macular edema, the most recent paper was published more than 30 years ago. In retinal vascular cystoid macular edema fluorescein angiography, a modality that images the superficial vascular plexus, shows increased leakage. Optical coherence tomography angiography has provided unprecedented resolution of retinal vascular flow in a depth resolved manner and demonstrates areas of decreased or absent flow in the deep vascular plexus colocalizing with the cystoid spaces. There has been a large amount of research on fluid management and edema in the brain, much of which may have analogues in the eye. Interstitial flow of fluid as managed by Müller cells may occur in the retina, comparable in some ways to the bulk flow in brain parenchyma, which is managed by astrocytes. Absent blood flow in the deep retinal plexus may restrict fluid management strategies in the retina, to include transport of excess fluid out of the retina into the blood by Müller cells. Application of this theory may help in increasing understanding of the pathophysiology of retinal vascular cystoid macular edema and may lead to new therapeutic approaches.

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