Diabetic macular oedema (DMO) is a thickening of the central retina, or the macula, and is associated with long-term visual loss in people with diabetic retinopathy (DR). Clinically significant macular oedema (CSMO) is the most severe form of DMO. Almost 30 years ago, the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) found that CSMO, diagnosed by means of stereoscopic fundus photography, leads to moderate visual loss in one of four people within three years. It also showed that grid or focal laser photocoagulation to the macula halves this risk. Recently, intravitreal injection of antiangiogenic drugs has been investigated to try to improve vision in people with macular oedema due to DR.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is based on optical reflectivity and is able to image retinal thickness and structure producing cross-sectional and three-dimensional images of the central retina. It is already widely used because it provides objective and quantitative assessment of macular oedema unlike the subjectivity of fundus biomicroscopic assessment, which is routinely used by ophthalmologists instead of photography. Optical coherence tomography is also used for quantitative follow up of the effects of treatment of CSMO. Disadvantages of using OCT are the cost to purchase it and the need for trained personnel to perform the examinations.