Diabetic macular edema: an OCT-based classification

Semin Ophthalmol. Mar-Jun 2004;19(1-2):13-20. doi: 10.1080/08820530490519934.


Purpose: More than ten years after ETDRS, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) greatly enhanced our ability to detect macular thickening and has brought new insights on the morphology of edema and on the presence of vitreal traction. In this study we propose a new classification of macular edema based on OCT findings to better catalogue and follow this complex clinical entity.

Methods: Since January 2000 we analysed with OCT 2 (Zeiss Inc.) more than one thousand and two hundred eyes with DME.

Results: The classification takes into account five parameters: retinal thickness, diffusion, volume, morphology and presence of vitreous traction. Standard figures and numerical values for every parameter are given.

Conclusion: Although ETDRS guidelines for laser treatment of DME still remain the only proven therapy for this condition, many other strategies are now on trial, and the vast majority of authors use OCT as the best indicator of therapeutic benefit. The amount of information given by OCT demonstrates that macular edema is a complex clinical entity with various morphology and gravity, and disclaimed the limitations of a simple "clinical" definition. As in many other examples such as macular holes and choroidal neovascularization, a uniform and precise definition of macular edema would increase the possibility to compare and judge the result of different therapeutic strategies. Aim of this classification is to implement the ETDRS clinical definition of DME with the precise and useful data given by OCT to better diagnose, catalogue and follow macular edema.

MeSH terms

  • Diabetic Retinopathy / classification*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Macular Edema / classification*
  • Macular Edema / diagnosis
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods*
  • Visual Acuity