The macula is filled with cones, the light-sensitive cells that are responsible for seeing in bright light and for color vision. Swelling of the macula affects the ability of those cells to function, causing blurred vision that can be severe.
Diabetic macular edema affects up to 30% of people who have had diabetes for 20 years or more, and if untreated, 20 to 30% of people who have it will experience moderate visual loss.
What Causes Diabetic Macular Edema?
Diabetic macular edema is a result of complication of diabetes, called diabetic retinopathy, in which blood vessels in the eye are damaged, allowing fluid to escape.
The severity of diabetic macular edema is dependent upon several factors:
Degree of diabetic retinopathy
Length of time the patient has had diabetes
Type of diabetes
Severe hypertension, very high blood pressure
Hypoalbuminemia, or low protein in body fluids
Hyperlipidemia, or high fat levels in the blood
Symptoms of Diabetic Macular Edema
Patients who suffer from diabetes have a risk of developing DME over time.If you have diabetes you should have your vision checked regularly. Be sure to mention if you notice changes in your vision such as:
Treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema
Treatment of diabetic macular edema is aimed at maintaining vision and reducing future vision loss:
Focal or grid laser treatment for DME: Uses a laser light to close leaking blood vessels, preventing more fluid from entering the macula. Three months after treatment, the patient should be rechecked to make sure the DME is responding to therapy.