What Is Diabetic Macular Edema? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Macular Edema
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- A sudden increase in eye floaters
- Seeing colors that look washed out or faded
- Vision loss
Causes and Risk Factors of Diabetic Macular Edema
Risk Factors for Diabetic Macular Edema
- Poor blood sugar control over a long period of time
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Fluid retention
- High cholesterol
- Having diabetes for a long time
- Sleep apnea
- Cataract surgery
How Is Diabetic Macular Edema Diagnosed?
- Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) With OCT, a special machine scans the retina and provides detailed views of its thickness. It can help measure the amount of swelling in the macula.
- Fluorescein Angiography A yellow dye is injected into a vein and moves through your blood vessels. Doctors use a special camera to capture images of the retina as the dye travels through its blood vessels. It can help your doctor determine the amount of damage to the macula.
- Visual Acuity Test This common way to assess vision loss involves using a standardized chart with rows of letters. You’re asked to cover one eye and read the smallest line of letters you can see.
- Amsler Grid This method is used to test your central vision. You basically look at a grid and report if any parts are missing, distorted, or dark.
Prognosis of Diabetic Macular Edema
Duration of Diabetic Macular Edema
Treatment and Medication Options for Diabetic Macular Edema
Treatments for diabetic macular edema will depend on your overall health, how severe the condition is, and other factors. It’s important to remember that habits like good blood sugar control and a healthy lifestyle are essential for a successful treatment outcome.
Some medicines used to treat diabetic macular edema include:
- Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (Anti-VEGF) Drugs These medicines are given as an injection into the eye. They block the development of new, abnormal blood vessels and help control leakage from damaged blood vessels. Typically, several injections are needed.Research published in April 2018 in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes shows that this form of therapy can improve vision.According to the National Eye Institute, anti-VEGF medicines are currently considered the standard of care for macular edema.Serious risks are rare but can include infection, inflammation of the eye, bleeding, or retinal detachment, notes the American Society of Retina Specialists.
- Corticosteroids Steroids can reduce inflammation in the eye. They’re usually given as an injection into the eye or as an injectable eye implant that releases the drug over time.Steroids may increase your risk of developing glaucoma or cataracts, so you should talk to your doctor about the pros and cons.
Prevention of Diabetic Macular Edema
- Maintaining good blood sugar control
- Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check
- Receiving a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year
- Following a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a nutritious diet
Regular eye exams and screenings are extremely important for people at risk for diabetic macular edema because symptoms don’t always show up.
Complications of Diabetic Macular Edema
Research and Statistics: Who Has Diabetic Macular Edema?
Black Americans and Diabetic Macular Edema
Research suggests that Black Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes and diabetic macular edema.
Related Conditions and Causes of Diabetic Macular Edema
Some conditions closely related to diabetic macular edema include:
Resources for Diabetic Macular Edema
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with diabetic macular edema, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Luckily, there are many resources to help you manage this condition.
American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, consisting of 32,000 medical doctors. Their site offers credible information about various conditions affecting the eye, including diabetic macular edema.
The NIH’s National Eye Institute provides detailed educational materials for different types of eye diseases and conditions. From fact sheets to webinars, their resources can help you learn more about diabetic eye diseases and how to lower your risk of vision loss.
American Diabetes Association (ADA)
The ADA’s mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by the disease. Their site offers useful information about diseases that affect vision as well as stories from patients who are living with diabetes-related eye conditions.
Prevent Blindness is an organization with a mission that echoes its name: to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We especially like their Resources for Low Vision page, which provides links to financial assistance sites, doctor searches, assistive technology products, and more.
VisionAware is a free informational service for people affected by vision loss. In addition to providing personal stories, the organization offers a feature that lets you search for local support groups in your area.
This site offers an array of diabetes products available for purchase. Some popular items include cookbooks, glucose monitors, pump accessories, and more.
This handy app converts text into speech or Braile instantly to give people with vision problems access to print. It also allows users to easily send and share documents.
This free application connects people with vision problems with sighted volunteers who can provide assistance via a live video call. It’s now available in 180-plus different languages in more than 150 countries.