What is Diabetic Macular Edema?

13 May 2014

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) affects the centre-most point of the retina at the back of the eye known as the macula.

The macula is an extremely important part of the eye that contains photoreceptors known as cones which absorb bright light and interpret colours to enable a person to experience detailed central vision.

DME is a complication of diabetes and is often a secondary complication of Diabetic Retinopathy in which blood vessels in the retina are damaged and begin to leak fluid.

DME also affects these blood vessels causing them to swell and leak fluid and sometimes fatty deposits into the macula.

When the blood vessels in the retina leak, they cause the macula to thicken and swell, which results in impaired vision.

While the swelling may not lead to blindness, DME can cause a severe loss in central vision.

Types of DME

There are two types of Diabetic Macular Edema which are distinguishable by the way in which leaked fluid enters the macula:

  1. Focal DME – Caused by vascular abnormalities
  2. Diffuse DME – Caused by dilated capillaries in the retina

How serious is DME if it goes undetected?

Damage caused to a person’s eyesight can be limited somewhat if Diabetic Macular Edema if detected early in its formation.

Long term diabetics or those already experiencing diabetic retinopathy should be mindful of the condition which can be affected by other health conditions such as high blood pressure, fluid retention in the body and a high percentage of body fat.

Symptoms of DME

Diabetics should have their vision checked regularly to ensure there are no changes in the functioning of the retina or optic nerve.

Changes in your eyesight to look out for that could signal DME include blurred vision, double vision or an elevated level of eye floaters.

Schedule your eye consultation at any Optilase clinic in Northern Ireland on 08000 121 565.

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