Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the world.
It is known to cause various complications in your body parts and even be the reason for premature death.
Of the many complications that arise due to diabetes, one of the most prevalent issues is the deterioration of eyesight.
So, in this article, let’s look at everything you need to know about DME, which is related to diabetes and eyesight.
What is Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)?
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a condition when excess fluid builds up in the macula of your eye.
The macula is the special and sensitive part of your eye that is responsible for sharp vision.
Causes Of Diabetic Macular Edema:
Due to the high blood sugar levels, the blood vessels in the eye are weakened, and as a result, the fluid leaks and seeps into the retina, eventually swelling it and causing Diabetic Macular Edema.
The damage of blood vessels in this case due to high blood sugar is called retinopathy.
Risks Factors Of Diabetic Macular Edema:
As the name suggests, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing this condition, especially type 1 and 2 diabetes. Other people who are also at a higher risk are:
- People with severe blood pressure (hypertension)
- Fluid retention
- Low levels of protein in body fluid
- High levels of fat in the blood
- Kidney disorders like Nephropathy
- Sleep Apnea
Signs and symptoms Of DME:
Diabetic Macular Edema does not always have symptoms, especially in the initial stages.
However, as the condition deteriorates you will be able to notice some of the below symptoms.
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- See washed out colors
- Wavy vision
Types of Diabetic Macular Edema
The type of Diabetic Macular Edema is determined based on the amount of swelling and the location of the swelling.
The thicker the swelling of the retina, the greater the vision loss. As for the location, the DME in some cases is confined to a single location in the retina, and in some other cases, the damage or the swelling is widespread.
The effects and type of DME is determined by an eye doctor or ophthalmologist after conducting a series of eye tests.
Before the testing, your doctor may ask many questions to understand:
- Changes and types of changes in your vision
- Your history of diabetes
- Your family medical history
- Recent blood sugar levels
- Blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Other medical conditions.
The eye tests usually include,
Visual Acuity Test: To determine how well you can see from a distance.
Dilated eye exam: The doctor will use drops to dilate or widen your pupils to get a closer look at the damaged blood vessels and retina.
Fundus imaging: Images of the retina are captured to find irregular blood vessels.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): This employs special cameras to capture the minute damage of the retina and to measure the swelling.
Fluorescein angiography: This uses a dye to understand the location and amount of leakage in your eye. The dye is injected into your arm, which then travels to your eye.
Your doctor will perform the appropriate testing based on your condition.
When diagnosed early, Diabetic Macular Edema can be easily treated and in some cases, it can prevent further loss of vision or restore it all together. However, if left untreated, it can significantly worsen within a couple of months.
Depending on the severity, Your Eye Doctor may suggest one or more of the below Treatments.
This treatment is usually done in a clinical setting under the supervision of your doctor.
It employs the use of tiny lasers to seal the leakage in your eyes. Doing this will prevent further vision loss and damage.
Depending on your severity, you may need several laser treatments to control and repair the eye damage, and may also require additional treatments.
As mentioned earlier, the type of treatment will be determined based on your eye damage and its severity.
In the case of medications, the medicine will be injected into your eye with the help of a tiny needle.
The doctor will first numb your eye before injecting the medicine to prevent pain.
These medications will prevent any abnormal blood vessel growth to reduce swelling and prevent further damage to the eye.
The usual recovery time after the treatment is 3-6 months. This time is needed for the eye to heal and the swelling around the retina and macula to subside.
Some of the common side effects are light sensitivity, black spots in the middle of the vision, and eye irritation.
However, these side effects are normal and will subside as your eye heals.
As you may already realize, maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure is the best way to prevent this eye condition.
However, in spite of all the efforts you put, you may still not be able to avoid such conditions in some cases.
To avoid this, we recommend Annual Eye Check-ups for early detection of such disorders.