Understanding Eye Microaneurysms: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Medically reviewed by Tina Patel, Contact Lens Optician at Feel Good Contacts.

Microaneurysms is a retinal condition that causes the blood vessels within the eyes to expand, and sometimes leak. This condition doesn’t change the outer appearance of the eyes, but inside the eyes there will be lots of little red dots inside the eye, surrounded by areas of yellow.

Eye microaneurysms explained

Microaneurysms are swelling inside the blood vessels of your eyes (when capillaries expand). Sometimes these capillaries will leak, and blood will get into the retinal tissue. Sometimes when the blood vessels leak it can cause macular edema which is when the blood vessels leak into the macula, causing the macula to swell, resulting in blurry vision.

Causes of eye microaneurysms

Any type of hypertension or vascular disease - such as branch retinal occlusion (BRVO) - can cause this condition. It’s usually an early sign of diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms of eye microaneurysms

There are no symptoms of microaneurysms, the condition is most often discovered during a routine eye examination. Those with diabetes will likely have their eyes tested more regularly than the average person, as they are more susceptible to eye issues. The average person should have an eye exam every 2 years (or more frequently if advised to by a health care professional). Having regular eye exams is one of the best ways to detect issues early, which in some cases is vital for avoiding vision loss.

Treatment options for eye microaneurysms in diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss and even blindness if left untreated. Although it isn’t microaneurysms that cause vision loss, it is a symptom of diabetic retinopathy.

Microaneurysms don’t need treatment, it is the underlying cause which needs to be treated. Managing diabetes can help to improve symptoms of microaneurysms if diabetes is the cause. Although diabetic retinopathy cannot be cured, the progression of this condition can be slowed down through a change in lifestyle and diet. If the blood vessels are leaking, this can be cauterized to stop the bleeding. The goal of these treatments is to preserve vision and prevent further complications.


Jr., P.S. (2023) Signs and symptoms of eye microaneurysms, American Academy of Ophthalmology. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/ask-ophthalmologist-q/what-are-signs-symptoms-of-eye-microaneurysms-2

T.S. Kern, S Huang, Microaneurysm (no date) Microaneurysm - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/microaneurysm

Retinal microaneurysm. Available at: http://www.retinaandmacula.com/retina/retinal_microaneurysm_bonita_springs.htm

Edwards, J.M. (2023) What are microaneurysms from diabetic retinopathy?, Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/diabetic-retinopathy-microaneurysms

Garin, Dr.M. (2021) Retinal microaneurysms in diabetics, Ophthalmology Associates. Available at: https://www.2020detroit.com/retinal-microaneurysms-in-diabetics/

Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace medical care or an in-person check-up. Please check with an eyecare professional before purchasing any products or remedies. For information on our article review process, please refer to our Editorial Policy.

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