Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

What is Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)?

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a complication of diabetes that is caused by swelling of the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision. It is a leading cause of vision loss in adults with diabetes, affecting up to one-third of all cases. DME is most common in people with type 1 diabetes, but it can affect those with type 2 diabetes as well.

Diabetic Macular Edema occurs when leaky blood vessels form around the macula and lead to swelling. This swelling causes blurred vision, dark or empty spots in the center of the field of vision, and a decrease in overall sharpness of vision. Left untreated, DME can even lead to blind spots and a permanent loss of central vision.

Treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema

If you’re diagnosed with diabetic macular edema, the first step is typically to work with your healthcare provider to manage your diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels under control can help minimize the risk of DME progressing.

Treatment for DME may involve medications, laser surgery, or other procedures. Medications that may be prescribed include:

  • Corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation.
  • Anti-VEGF drugs, to reduce the leakage of the abnormal blood vessels.
  • Aflibercept, to reduce VEGF.
  • Oral carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, to reduce fluid buildup in the macula.

In some cases, if medication is not effective, laser surgery may be recommended to seal off the leaking blood vessels. Surgery may also be an option to remove the areas of fluid buildup or neovascularization. Additionally, intravitreal injections, also known as injections into the eye, may be used to reduce inflammation.

It’s important to note that treatment for DME may not always be successful and it may not be possible to restore vision that has already been lost.

Prevention of Diabetic Macular Edema

The best way to prevent DME is to control your diabetes. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking medications or insulin as prescribed. It’s also important to have regular check-ups with your healthcare provider to monitor your diabetes and vision, and to watch out for any signs of DME.

If you’re diagnosed with DME, you should also wear sunglasses when outdoors, as sunlight can worsen the swelling. Additionally, in some cases, wearing prescribed eyeglasses or contact lenses may help reduce the severity of the symptoms.