Understanding DME

Whether you have just been diagnosed with Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) or have been living with your condition for years, here are information and tools to help you understand your condition.

Maryanne K.
DME Patient
“As someone who has been living with type 2 diabetes for many years, I know how hard it can be to manage the disease. Between remembering to take my medications every day and carefully watching my diet and blood sugar levels – it’s not easy to stay on top of it all. But you can’t let that stop you from making your eye health a priority; your vision is too precious to neglect taking good care of yourself. Take ownership of your diabetes.”
1/What is Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)?1,2

DME is a retinal disease. It can occur as a part of Diabetic Retinopathy, an eye condition that occurs when chronically high levels of blood sugar damage the blood vessels in the retina. DME occurs when the damaged blood vessels leak fluid into the macula (the part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision). This fluid can cause changes in your vision.

2/Risk factors for DME include:1,2
  • Diabetes, especially if you have had it for a long time
  • Race (more common in non-Hispanic African Americans)
  • Smoking
  • High Blood A1C levels
  • High Blood Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
3/What are the symptoms of DME?1-3

Common symptoms include blurriness in the center of your vision, blind spots or patches, straight lines that look wavy, or colors that look dull or washed out. These symptoms may affect your ability to read, write, drive, and recognize faces. You can experience what these symptoms look like here.

4/How is DME diagnosed?1,2

A dilated eye exam is a common test that may be used to diagnose DME. During the exam, a doctor dilates (widens) the pupil using eye drops. He or she can then better see the back of the eye, including the retina, and look for signs of problems. Learn more about the other eye exams your doctor may conduct.

5/What are the treatment options for DME?1

The good news is there are treatment options that may help protect against vision loss caused by DME. If you are experiencing symptoms of DME, make an appointment to speak with your eye doctor today to discuss how you can help protect your vision.

The most common treatments are anti-VEGF drugs, steroids, and laser therapy.

Anti-VEGF Drugs1 Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a naturally occurring protein in the body that is produced at abnormally high levels in DME and other types of retinal diseases. Anti-VEGF drugs bind to the protein and help keep blood vessels in the eye from leaking fluid. Anti-VEGF drugs are administered by injection in the eye.

Steroids1,2 Steroids can reduce swelling and inflammation in the retina. Steroids are usually delivered by injection into the eye.

Laser Therapy1 Laser photocoagulation uses a beam of light to seal off or destroy leaking vessels.

6/Monitor your vision between appointments
Did You Know?
You can take control of monitoring your eye health by using the Amsler Grid test.
Image of an Amsler Grid without retinal disease

Amsler Grid
without retinal disease

Image of Potential Amsler Grid with Wet AMD

Example Amsler Grid

Even with regular eye exams, DME can get worse.1,2 It is important to check your vision between appointments. Download your Amsler Grid to check for any problem areas in your vision at home.

7/Questions to ask your doctor

Take control of your condition by downloading an Appointment Guide below. It contains a list of questions to consider asking your doctor at your next appointment. Some of the questions are general, while others focus on your treatment options.

And don’t forget: if there’s anything you don’t understand, ask your doctor for an explanation.

Click here to download or email yourself
an Appointment Guide to help you get
the most out of your next visit to
your eye doctor.

For more resources, head over to the Resources & Tools page.

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Health information contained herein is provided for general education purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the best source of information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your health or any treatment options.
  1. Facts about diabetic eye disease. National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute Web site. http://bit.ly/2j1oO8K. Accessed November 17, 2017.
  2. Facts about macular edema. National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute Web site. http://bit.ly/2AUxh7s. Accessed November 17, 2017.
  3. Diabetic retinopathy. American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) Web site. http://bit.ly/2j5Kl4q. Accessed November 17, 2017.
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