Purpose: To evaluate the retinal structure before and after vitrectomy for diabetic macular edema and to assess the correlation between thickness of neurosensory retina and best-corrected visual acuity.
Methods: Tomographic features of 13 eyes (nine patients) with diabetic macular edema were prospectively evaluated with optical coherence tomography before and after vitrectomy. The foveal thickness (the distance between the inner retinal surface and the retinal pigment epithelium) and the retinal thickness (thickness of neurosensory retina) were measured by optical coherence tomography preoperatively and postoperatively. The correlation of the best-corrected visual acuity with foveal and retinal thickness was determined.
Results: All 13 eyes had retinal swelling with low intraretinal reflectivity. In addition to retinal swelling, there were cystoid spaces in five (38%) of 13 eyes, a serous retinal detachment in three (23%), and both cystoid spaces and serous detachment in three (23%). Six months postoperatively, the mean foveal thickness significantly decreased from 630 +/- 170 to 350 +/- 120 microm (P <.01, paired t test) and the mean thickness of neurosensory retina decreased from 540 +/- 160 to 320 +/- 140 microm (P <.01, paired t test). A serous retinal detachment occurred transiently in 3 eyes. Compared with the preoperative level, the postoperative best-corrected visual acuity level improved by more than 2 lines in five of the 13 eyes (38%), remained the same in seven eyes (54%), and decreased in one eye (8%). The postoperative thickness of neurosensory retina at the fovea and best-corrected visual acuity level at the sixth postoperative month had a strong negative correlation (correlation coefficient, -0.76; P <.01, Spearmans rank test).
Conclusions: Vitrectomy was generally effective in treatment of diabetic macular edema. Optical coherence tomography demonstrated the intraretinal changes of macular edema and the process of edema absorption. During the process of macular edema absorption, intraretinal fluid appeared to move into the subretinal space in some cases. Best-corrected visual acuity improvement was greater in eyes with less preoperative increase in thickness of neurosensory retina.