Diabetic Macular Edema (DME): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | Wockhardt Hospitals

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on facebook
Share on telegram
Share on twitter

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a serious eye condition that can develop in people with diabetes. This condition affects the macula, the part of the retina in charge of the near-term detailed vision, which gives it its characteristic appearance. The macula allows us to see fine details, read, recognize faces, and perform other tasks that require sharp and precise vision. A fluid leak from adjacent blood vessels causes the macula to enlarge, impairing vision and changing the appearance of colors, making them bland or faded. Diabetic macular edema symptoms can range in severity from a slight blurriness of vision to a significant loss of central vision that makes everyday tasks challenging. When DME occurs, it can lead to vision impairment or even blindness if left untreated.

Diabetic Macular Edema Symptoms

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) often presents with a variety of symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. Some common diabetic macular edema symptoms include:

  • Blurred Vision: Blurriness, especially in the central field of vision, is one of the most common symptoms of DME. This blurring may come and go, making it crucial to monitor changes in your vision.
  • Visual Distortions: A condition termed Metamorphopsia might result in straight lines seeming curved or wavy because of DME. This distortion can make it challenging to read, drive, or perform other daily activities.
  • Difficulty with Color Perception: Some individuals with DME may experience difficulties in distinguishing colors or may perceive colors differently from what they are.
  • Floaters: People with DME may notice dark spots or specks that appear to float in their field of vision. These floaters can be distracting and may interfere with normal vision.
  • Reduced Central Vision: As diabetes macular edema progresses, central vision can deteriorate, making tasks such as reading, watching TV, and recognizing faces increasingly difficult.
  • Poor Night Vision: Some individuals with DME may struggle with night vision, making it challenging to navigate in low-light conditions.
  • Vision Fluctuations: Vision in DME can vary, with some individuals experiencing periods of improved vision followed by worsening symptoms.
  • Blind Spots: In advanced cases, blind spots can develop in the central field of vision, significantly impairing one’s ability to see and perform daily tasks.

Diabetic Macular Edema Causes

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) primarily results from complications of diabetes, particularly when blood sugar levels are poorly controlled over an extended period. Several other diabetic macular edema causes are:

  • High Blood Sugar Levels: Continuous high blood sugar damages the small blood vessels in the retina, leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. 
  • Inflammation: Inflammation within the eye can exacerbate the leakage of fluid into the macula. This inflammation is often triggered by the presence of high blood sugar and abnormal blood vessels in the retina.
  • Blood Vessel Abnormalities: Diabetes can cause the development of abnormal blood vessels in the retina, which are fragile and prone to leaking. These abnormal vessels can contribute to the buildup of fluid in the macula.
  • Weakened Blood-Fluid Barrier: The blood-retinal barrier, which normally prevents excess fluid from leaking into the retina, can become compromised due to the effects of diabetes. When this barrier weakens, fluid can enter the macula more easily.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to developing diabetes macular edema, making them more susceptible to the condition when diabetes is present.

Risk Factors of Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Certain factors increase the risk of developing diabetes macular edema, and understanding these risk factors can help individuals with diabetes take proactive steps to manage their eye health. Some of the key risk factors for DME include:

  • Uncontrolled or poorly managed diabetes significantly increases the risk of DME. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels through medication, diet, and exercise is crucial in preventing Diabetic Macular Edema and its progression.
  • High blood pressure (BP) can exacerbate the risk of DME and its progression. Controlling blood pressure is essential for diabetes management.
  • Elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides can also increase the risk of DME. Proper management of lipid levels can help reduce this risk.
  • Smoking is a known risk factor for both diabetes and Diabetic Macular Edema. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of eye complications.
  • Diabetic women who become pregnant may be at increased risk of developing DME. Close monitoring during pregnancy is essential to manage this risk.
  • Diabetic kidney disease (nephropathy) is often associated with diabetic retinopathy and DME. Patients with kidney disease should be particularly vigilant about their eye health.

Diabetic Macular Edema Treatment

Diabetic Macular Edema treatment is essential to prevent vision loss and improve overall quality of life. Several treatment options are available, and the choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition, the patient’s overall health, and other individual factors. The diabetic macular edema treatment includes:

  • Anti-VEGF Injections – Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) inhibitors are injected directly into the eye to reduce swelling and leakage of fluid from abnormal blood vessels. This treatment is highly effective and often recommended for moderate to severe diabetes macular edema.
  • Corticosteroid Injections – Steroid injections can help reduce inflammation in the eye and decrease macular edema. They are typically used when anti-VEGF therapy is not effective or tolerated.
  • Laser Treatment – This treatment approach involves the use of a laser to seal leaking blood vessels in the retina. While not as common as other treatments, it may be recommended for specific cases.
  • Vitrectomy – In advanced cases of DME, a vitrectomy may be performed to remove the vitreous gel that is pulling on the retina, leading to macular edema. This procedure is typically considered when other treatments have not been successful.
  • Lifestyle Modifications – Managing diabetes through a healthy lifestyle is the foundation of DME treatment. It includes maintaining optimal blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication if prescribed.

Wockhardt Hospitals: A Trusted Choice for DME Management

Diabetes patients may develop diabetic macular edema (DME), a disease that might seriously impair their eyesight. Wockhardt Hospitals distinguishes itself as a respected healthcare establishment with the experience, technology, and patient-centered approach to efficiently manage Diabetic Macular Edema. Our world-class medical professionals offer comprehensive care, including regular eye check-ups, early detection, and a range of treatment options to meet each patient’s individual needs.

FAQs on Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Q. Is DME a serious condition?

Yes, it can become a serious medical problem if treatment is not received within time. The primary cause of permanent blindness is diabetic eye disorders, which include Diabetic Macular Edema. The good news is that, with effective treatment, your vision can be preserved—especially if caught early.

Q. Can I drive if I have diabetes macular edema?

It is determined by the total clarity of your vision. Your doctor is the best person to help you make this decision, but when possible, it might be wiser (and safer) to find alternative transportation options.

Q. Can diabetic macular edema ever be cured?

There’s no treatment for DME as of yet. Nonetheless, prompt medical attention and effective diabetes treatment control may minimize blindness, prevent its advancement, and sometimes even reverse the damage.

Talk with our expert


    Second Opinion