Approximately 34.2 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), which can eventually lead to a more serious vision-threatening condition called diabetic macular edema (DME).
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.3 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.3,4 DME can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses.3
1 American Diabetes Association. Statistics. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/statistics-about-diabetes. Accessed September 13, 2021.
2 American Academy Of Ophthalmology. Diabetic Retinopathy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-diabetic-retinopathy#symptoms. Accessed September 30, 2021.
3 National Eye Institute. Facts About Diabetic Retinopathy. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy.asp. 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 Browning, David J., et al. “Diabetic Macular Edema: What Is Focal and What Is Diffuse?” American Journal of Ophthalmology, vol. 146, no. 5, 5 Sept. 2008, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajo.2008.07.013.
6 Mathew, Christopher, et al. “Updates in the Management of Diabetic Macular Edema.” Journal of Diabetes Research, vol. 2015, 23 Apr. 2015, pp. 1–8., https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/794036.
7 Lee, R., Wong, T.Y. & Sabanayagam, C. Epidemiology of diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema and related vision loss. Eye and Vis 2, 17 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40662-015-0026-2.
8 Varma R, Bressler NM, Doan QV, et al. Prevalence of and risk factors for diabetic macular edema in the United States. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014;132(11):1334-1340. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2014.2854.
9 Moshfeghi A, Garmo V, Sheinson D, Ghanekar A, Abbass I. Five-Year Patterns of Diabetic Retinopathy Progression in US Clinical Practice. Clin Ophthalmol. 2020;14:3651-365.https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S275968.
10 Prevent Blindness. Diabetes-Related Macular Edema. Available at: https://preventblindness.org/diabetic-macular-edema-dme/. Accessed October 12, 2021.