Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness: What is Diabetic Macular Edema?

Of all of our five senses, the one that we tend to rely upon the most is our vision. Unfortunately, diabetes tends to have a significant impact on vision. One condition often brought on by diabetes is diabetic macular edema, or DME. Defining DME, its causes, symptoms, and treatment is one way to help raise awareness of diabetic eye disease.

Defining Diabetic Macular Edema

DME is a buildup of fluids in the center area of the retina known as the macula. This fluid buildup causes the macula to swell and become thicker, which distorts the sharpness and focus of the retina.

Diabetic Eye Disease Causes and Symptoms

Some common causes of diabetic macular edema are diabetic retinopathy and surgical procedures for the removal of cataracts or to correct macular degeneration. Diabetic retinopathy may change the structure of blood vessels in the retina and causes them to leak fluid or bleed. This in turn can lead to fluid buildup in the macula.

Symptoms of this form of diabetic eye disease include patchy, blurry, or cloudy vision and changes in color perception.

These symptoms can appear at any time in patients who are already diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, or those who have recently undergone corrective eye surgery.

DME Treatments

Treating diabetic eye disease and specifically DME is often based on treating the disease that’s causing it, and that likely means implementing all of the various treatments for diabetes itself. For this reason, it’s ideal for your eye doctor and primary care physician to work together for the best eye care treatment plan for you.

In addition to addressing and controlling the diabetes, treatment options include:

  • Anti-VEGF Injections: This treatment blocks the activity of VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) and slows the progress of macular edema.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Treatments: Anti-inflammatory options include steroid or non-steroid treatments.
  • Surgical Procedures: Surgical procedures may help to treat DME. The most common procedure involves removing the vitreous gel between the lens and the retina.

Ongoing research is being conducted in refining these procedures as well as introducing new treatment options.

Consult with Your Eye Doctor

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month, which is a great step in raising awareness. Being more aware of the causes of diabetes-related eye disease may encourage diabetics and others to be more cognizant of how to prevent its onset.

The best option for dealing with DME is to prevent it by following diabetic treatment plans and by early diabetic eye disease detection through regular vision screenings.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to see your eye doctor regularly. If you’re due for a vision exam, contact us to make an appointment.


If you are concerned about diabetic eye disease, schedule an appointment to see one of our eye doctors in Genesee County.

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