Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is an accumulation of fluid in the macula—part of the retina that controls our most detailed vision abilities—due to leaking blood vessels. In order to develop DME, you must first have diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that damages the blood vessels in the retina, resulting in vision impairment. Left untreated, these blood vessels begin to build up pressure in the eye and leak fluid, causing DME. DME usually takes on two forms:
- Focal DME, which occurs because of abnormalities in the blood vessels in the eye.
- Diffuse DME, which occurs because of widening/swelling retinal capillaries (very thin blood vessels).
DME is associated with:
- Those who have had diabetes for an extended amount of time
- Severe hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Fluid retention
- Hypoalbuminemia (low levels of protein in body fluids)
- Hyperlipidemia (high levels of fats in the blood)
Common symptoms of DME are :
- blurry vision,
- double vision,
- eventually blindness if it goes untreated.
What is the treatment?
The treatments for focal and diffuse DME differ, but they both involve laser procedures. Most doctors use focal laser treatment to treat focal DME and grid laser treatment to treat diffuse DME. The goal of both kinds of procedures is to stop the leakage in the macula.
Sometimes, there is nothing you can do to prevent diabetic retinopathy or DME, but your best chance at avoiding them comes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, eating lots of vegetables and fruit, and visiting your eye doctor at least once a year to stay on top of your eye health.
Myths / Frequently Asked Questions
- Eating right can help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
- Avoid highly processed snack foods such as cakes, cookies, potato chips.
- Avoid partially hydrogenated fats, especially coconut oils.
- Eat a diet low in fat.