What is DME? Symptoms, Cause & Impact

Damage to the eyesight of diabetics is a concern. The eye requires a constant flow of blood to function properly. Blood vessels in the eye are damaged when blood sugar and insulin levels in the body are out of control. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the retina’s blood vessels leak, resulting in blindness. 

In this article, you will gain knowledge about diabetic macular edema, symptoms, causes, and treatment options.  


Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a fluid buildup in the retina’s macula, which is responsible for our sharpest vision, caused by leaky blood vessels. Diabetic retinopathy is a prerequisite to developing diabetic macular edema (DME). Retinal blood vessels are damaged in diabetic retinopathy, which causes vision loss. DME can occur if these blood vessels are left untreated, resulting in eye pressure and fluid leakage. DME is commonly found in one of two forms.


A person’s vision may not be affected by diabetes at all in the early stages. It takes many years for the retina to be damaged.

A complete retinal detachment may be possible, but if the damage is limited to the retina’s blood vessels, it does not impair vision.

However, vision can become dramatically worse if the blood vessels in or near the macula are damaged or if there is sudden bleeding or fluid leakage into the macula. Among the symptoms you will notice are the following:

  • You may notice a smudge on your glasses or a gap in your vision when you wake up.
  • The objects in front of you can change the size, color, or shape.
  • Colors may fade over time.
  • Bright light or glare may be difficult for you.
  • Reading may be difficult for you.
  • Door jambs and lamp posts, which are normally straight, can look distorted or bent when photographed.

Your optometrist or hospital eye specialist should be contacted immediately if you notice an abrupt change in your vision.


Diabetic macular edema (DME) is triggered when your blood sugar levels are out of whack. If you have a high blood sugar level all the time, it can harm not only your heart but also your retina, the tissue at the back of your eye that transmits images to your brain.

Your retina’s ability to function properly is hampered if the blood vessels supplying it are unhealthy.

VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor, is a protein that your body produces to assist. It is not a problem if you have a healthy eye. However, it can weaken blood vessels if consumed in excess under certain circumstances. They can eventually tear and leak fluid and blood into your retina. Diabetic retinopathy causes your retina to swell and thicken. Swelling in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, clear vision, is also a result of fluid leakage.

Swelling caused by an excess of fluid is known as “edema.” Diabetic macular edema (DME) is brought on by fluid buildup in the macula.

Macular edema is a common complication of diabetes. Cataract surgery or other eye operations, macular degeneration, swelling in the uvea (the middle part of the eye), blocked veins in the retina or radiation damage can all cause this symptom as well.

Macular edema can be a side effect of certain diabetes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis medications. 

Risk Factors

Diabetic macular edema (DME) is more common in people who have diabetes for a long time. After 10 years, 90% of people with type 1 diabetes have some degree of retinopathy.

Retinopathy risk for people with type 2 diabetes ranges from 67–80 percent (or two in three to four in five) after 10 years, depending on whether they need to take insulin.

Diabetic patients are more likely to develop a level of macular edema that necessitates treatment if their lifestyle and blood sugar levels are not improved. You can easily obtain diabetes medication online after prescription. 

Diabetic retinopathy is more likely to develop if your blood sugar is elevated. If you have high blood pressure, you have a greater risk of developing advanced retinopathy as a result of small changes in your levels. Diabetes macular edema (DME) affects 7 percent of all diabetics (or about one in every fourteen). 


DME can be effectively treated with a variety of options. Having regular eye exams can help catch any changes in your vision before they become more serious. Treatments for DME can help you keep your vision or even restore some of what you’ve lost.

Your ophthalmologist may advise you to try a combination of treatments.

Laser therapy

An eye doctor’s office, for example, might offer this treatment option.

Tiny lasers are used in laser therapy to target damaged retinal tissue. This procedure seals and prevents the growth of abnormal blood vessels.

Your current vision level can be maintained and further vision loss can be prevented by using laser therapy.

You’ll probably need several laser treatments to restore your vision. If further damage to your eyes occurs, you may require additional treatment.

Injectable medications

Both anti-VEGF and steroid injections are available for use. There are a variety of options for each group.

Your ophthalmologist or optometrist will assess your specific condition and prescribe the medication and treatment schedule that is best for you.

Your eye doctor uses a very fine needle to inject the medication into your eye. When they administer this medication, they’ll numb your eye to avoid any discomfort.

In medical jargon, “anti-vascular endothelial growth factor” is referred to as “anti-VEGF.” Medications in this category are designed to prevent the formation of abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Swelling is also reduced as a result of their use.

Anti-VEGF medications are, in general, used to:

  • researchers have found promising results in terms of improving vision
  • reduce the amount of fluid that leaks into the eye’s retina
  • are considered safe and have a low risk of complications

Injections of anti-VEGF are rarely painful. Your doctor can discuss options for calming you down if needles cause you anxiety.

In addition to surgery, steroids can be used to treat DME. Steroids have the potential to:

  • aid in reducing retinal swelling and improving vision
  • no longer affect anti-VEGF medication

However, steroids have been linked to an increased risk of cataracts in some people. The risks and benefits of this treatment will be discussed with you by your doctor.

For diabetic macular edema, steroid therapy may be administered in the form of one-time injections or long-term delivery via implants.  


Inquiring about treatment options with your health care professional is never too late. The sooner you begin treatment after being diagnosed with DME, the better your chances are of avoiding long-term vision loss and eye damage.

You can make a big difference in protecting your vision by taking preventative measures. Make sure your eyes are in good health by following these tips:

  • Annual eye exams should be scheduled with your optometrist.
  • If you notice any changes in your vision, make an appointment with your eye doctor right away.
  • Manage your blood sugar levels with the help of your diabetes care team.
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol level by making lifestyle changes.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor or nurse practitioner if you’re having trouble controlling your blood sugar levels. They may advise you to make dietary or medication changes to help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a treatable disease. There are a variety of effective treatment options. Maintaining or regaining one’s vision can be done.

To ensure the health of your eyes and your overall well-being, you should visit your eye doctor at least once per year. Vision loss can be prevented if it is detected early enough.


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