Diabetic Macular Edema

Let's Talk About Diabetic Macular Edema

Get the doctor-approved details on macular edema causes, symptoms, and diagnosis, plus plenty of tips that make life easier.

    Our Pro PanelDiabetic Macular Edema

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in DME treatment to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Michelle Liang, M.D.

    Michelle Liang, M.D.Ophthalmologist

    Tufts Medical Center
    Abdhish R. Bhavsar, M.D.

    Abdhish R. Bhavsar, M.D.Spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and President and Director of Clinical Research

    Retina Center of Minnesota
    Jennifer Sun, M.D.

    Jennifer Sun, M.D.Associate Professor of Ophthalmology

    Harvard Medical School

    Frequently Asked QuestionsDiabetic Macular Edema

    What is a macula?

    The macula is like the bullseye of the retina, the photo-sensitive tissue that lines the back of your eye: It is right in the center and it’s the most light-sensitive. The macula is responsible for our central vision (as opposed to peripheral vision) and allows us to see fine detail, color, and faraway objects. So, if anything affects the macula, it will almost always affect your eyesight. Macular edema is when the macula becomes swollen or when fluid from damaged blood vessels leaks into this part of the retina.

    If I have diabetic retinopathy, will I develop diabetic macular edema?

    Not necessarily. In fact, less than 10% of people with diabetic retinopathy will develop diabetic macular edema. Plus, healthy lifestyle habits—keeping your blood sugar level in control, not smoking, and exercising—can lower your risk and possibly bring your chances of DME down even further.

    How do I know when I should see an eye doctor?

    If you have diabetes or diabetic retinopathy, you should visit your eye doctor at least once a year. And if you’re experiencing any change in your vision—blurriness, distorted or “wavy” vision, or you see floaters or dark spots—see your eye doctor right away.

    If I develop diabetic macular edema, will I go blind?

    Total vision loss can be prevented with early detection and treatment. That’s why regular eye exams are so important. Advances in treatments—including anti–vascular endothelial growth factor (Anti-VEGF) injections, steroid implants, and/or laser treatments—can halt or even reverse vision loss.

    Patty Onderko

    Patty Onderko

    Patty Onderko is a health and lifestyle writer and editor living in Brooklyn, NY.