What is cystoid macular edema?

The eye is often compared to a camera. The front of the eye contains a lens that focuses images on the inside of the back surface of the eye. This surface, called the retina, consists of special nerve cells that react to light.

In the center of the retina is the macula. The macula makes up the center of our vision and is the most critical area for our best visual acuity (sharpness). Sometimes the macula becomes swollen with fluid. When any tissue of the body becomes swollen with fluid, the condition is called edema. When this happens to the macula, the edema fluid typically combines in cyst-like patterns; this condition is called cystoid macular edema.

Why do people get cystoid macular edema?

There are many known causes of cystoid macular edema. These include:

What are the symptoms of cystoid macular edema?

Cystoid macular edema can be asymptomatic (no symptoms). Potential symptoms of cystoid macular edema include blurry or "wavy" vision, usually in the middle of the field of view. Colors might also appear different.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/19/2015.


  • Rotsos TG, Moschos MM. Cystoid macular edema. Clin Ophthalmol. 2008 Dec; 2(4): 919–930.
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology. Macular Edema Treatment Accessed 3/23/2015.

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