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Diabetic? Here's What You Need To Know About DME

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Diabetes is a common condition, and since it is so common, some people tend to underestimate just how serious it is. Especially when it's not well controlled, diabetes can have a negative impact on just about every part of your body, including your eyes. In fact, DME, or diabetic macular edema, is quite common in diabetics whose blood sugar is not well controlled. Here's a closer look at this condition.

What is DME?

DME is a condition in which the blood vessels in your eyes become damaged by consistent high blood sugar levels. This damage causes them to leak fluid. As the fluid accumulates in the macula, which is a part of the retina located at the back of your eye, the area becomes swollen. This fluid-filled swelling impacts the normal function of your eye, leading to symptoms like:

  • Blurry vision

  • Colors appearing pale or washed-out

  • Waviness in your visual field

What's scary, however, is that in its early stages, DME does not always cause symptoms. So many diabetics don't find out they're developing it until it's quite severe. This is why it's so important to see your eye doctor for regular checkups. They'll be able to detect DME, using a few standard tests to look at your eye and measure eye pressure, before you notice your vision changing.

What is the prognosis for DME?

If DME is left untreated, your vision will eventually become very poor and you may even lose your sight entirely. However, most patients' vision is preserved with standard treatment.

Treatment options include:

Prescription Medications

Your eye doctor may prescribe drugs to help slow damage to your blood vessels and prevent more fluid from leaking into your macula. There are several different drugs approved for this purpose, including aflibercept and pegaptanib. You may have to try a couple of them before finding the one that's right for you.

Laser Therapy

A laser may be used to seal leaking blood vessels. This procedure is performed under local anesthetic so you don't feel a thin, but your eyes may be a little sore for a few days afterwards.


This is a procedure in which extra fluid is removed from the macula. It is generally only recommended in severe cases because it can be risky and invasive.

Click here for more information, and remember that regardless of the treatment your doctor recommends, you'll also need to work on getting your blood sugar under better control. Your doctor and eye doctor may collaborate to help design a better diet plan or insulin regimen for you.