Understanding Excess Eye Fluid: Causes and Treatments

Excess fluid inside the eye can lead to sight-threatening eye diseases— making early diagnosis absolutely vital. 

The eye is primarily composed of collagen, water, and protein. Occasionally, an excess of fluid may build up within the eye, heightening the risk of severe eye conditions.

An accumulation of fluid in the eye can lead to critical issues such as glaucoma and macular edema.

Why is there fluid inside the eye?

Inside the eye, there are two distinct types of fluid:

  • Retinal Blood Vessels: These are delicate blood vessels that provide vital oxygen and nutrients to the nerves at the back of the eye. These nerves are responsible for transmitting visual information from the eyes to the brain.
  • Aqueous Humor: This clear, watery fluid occupies the front section of the eye, filling the space between the cornea and the eye’s middle structures. It supplies the cornea with fresh oxygen and assists in waste removal by draining through veins at the back of the eye.

An excess of either fluid type can result in severe eye conditions that threaten vision, underscoring the importance of early detection and intervention.

Which conditions are caused by excess fluid?

A range of eye conditions can be caused by excess fluid inside the eye, including:

  • Wet macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular edema
  • Diabetic macular edema
  • Central serous retinopathy

Wet macular degeneration

Wet macular degeneration is triggered by a rapid buildup of fluid in the macula, typically due to the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina. These irregular vessels can leak blood and fluid into the retina and macula, leading to damage and a loss of central vision.


Glaucoma develops when the aqueous humor, the fluid inside the eye, accumulates due to a blockage in the eye’s internal drainage system.

This buildup of fluid increases the internal eye pressure. If this high pressure persists, it can exert continuous pressure on the optic nerve, leading to irreversible damage and loss of vision.

To safeguard your eye health and maintain your vision, it’s advisable to schedule an eye exam with a nearby eye care professional.

Macular edema

Macular edema arises when fluid accumulates in the macula due to leakage from damaged retinal blood vessels. This swelling in the macula, caused by the leakage of plasma or blood, typically leads to blurred or distorted vision in the central visual field.

Diabetic macular edema

Diabetic macular edema, a complication of diabetic retinopathy, involves the leakage of fluid or blood into the retina. This condition frequently leads to symptoms such as blurred or double vision and the appearance of black spots in the central visual field.

Central serous retinopathy

Central serous retinopathy develops when fluid accumulates under the retina due to leakage from blood vessels in the choroid, which is located beneath the retina. This condition typically results in symptoms like dimmed, distorted, or blurred vision, and can make straight lines appear crooked or bent. The buildup of fluid behind the retina heightens the risk of retinal detachment and potential vision loss.

How is excess fluid inside the eye treated?

Treating excess fluid in the eye typically involves addressing the root cause of the buildup.

For conditions involving the retina, recommended treatments may include anti-VEGF injections, laser procedures, or surgical interventions to halt the growth of abnormal blood vessels.

In cases of glaucoma, the use of medicated eye drops is commonly prescribed to lower intraocular pressure. Additionally, medications or surgical options might be necessary to enhance fluid drainage.

If you experience any changes in your vision, it’s crucial to consult an eye care professional for an examination.

Regular eye exams are vital for maintaining eye health and vision, allowing your doctor to detect early signs of eye diseases promptly.