Approximately 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes.1 People with diabetes are at an increased risk for developing eye problems. One reason is because diabetes and other complications can cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy).
Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a serious eye condition that affects people with diabetes (type 1 or type 2). "Macular" refers to the macula, which is the central portion of the retina and the part of the eye responsible for sharp central vision.2 Edema means swelling of tissues from fluid.
DME results when the damaged blood vessels leak fluid and cause swelling, which blurs vision. If
retinopathy worsens, the eye may begin to form new, abnormal blood vessels over the retina,
which can break easily and bleed, causing severe vision loss and even blindness.2,3,4
DME can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur
as the disease progresses.2
1 American Diabetes Association. Statistics. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-statistics.jsp. Accessed June 6, 2012.
2 National Eye Institute. Facts About Diabetic Retinopathy. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy.asp. Accessed June 6, 2012
3 Lighthouse International. Diabetic Retinopathy Overview. Available at: http://www.lighthouse.org/about-low-vision-blindness/vision-disorders/diabetic-retinopathy/diabetic-retinopathy-overview/. Accessed June 6, 2012.
4 American Academy of Family Physicians, Diabetic Retinopathy Overview. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/diabetic-retinopathy.html. Accessed June 6, 2012.
5 Diabetes and Ocular Disease, Ophthalmology Monographs 14, Scott et al, Oxford University Press and AAO 2010, page 130, and referenced within is Bresnick, GH, Diabetic maculopathy: a critical review highlighting diffuse macular edema. Ophthalmology 1983 (90) 1301-1317.
6 Bressler NM, Varma R, Doan Q, et al. Prevalence of Visual Impairment from Diabetic Macular Edema and Relationship to Eye Care from the 2005 - 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) [abstract]. The Retina Society 45th Annual Scientific Meetings, Washington, DC; October 4-7, 2012 (accepted for presentation).
8 Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Research Group. Retinopathy and nephropathy in patients with type 1 diabetes four years after a trial of intensive therapy. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2000; 342:381-389.
9 Macular Edema, Diabetic; emedicine from WebMD, Medscape Specialits: Opthalmology/Retina; Updated: Oct 7, 2010. Available at: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1224138-overview. Accessed June 6, 2012.