Retinal vascular disease is the most common cause of macular edema (ME). While there are several etiologies of vascular compromise and subsequent macular leakage, diabetic retinopathy is the most prevalent and continues to challenge ophthalmologists and frustrate patients due to its refractory nature. In response to this epidemic, diabetic ME (DME) along with cystoid ME (CME) have been areas of active investigation both in the clinic and the laboratory. Several decades of basic science research have revealed a growing and complex array of cytokine growth factors and proinflammatory mediators which are capable of inciting the cellular changes that result in accumulation of fluid within the retina. Much of this new molecular foundation provides the current and fundamental scaffold for understanding the pathologic process of ME while simultaneously identifying potential therapeutic targets. Whereas CME has classically been treated with corticosteroids and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, recent clinical studies have demonstrated improved visual outcomes for DME treatment with light focal/grid laser, corticosteroids and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibodies. Yet, each of these treatments has differential effects on the multifactorial mechanisms of ME. This article reviews the anatomical, cellular and molecular derangements associated with ME and highlights specific pathways targeted by current treatments.
Copyright 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.