Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a condition that often occurs in conjunction with diabetic retinopathy and any other disease that damages blood vessels in the retina. It affects the macula, or the central portion of the retina responsible for clear central vision and capturing fine detail. Left untreated, DME can result in distorted vision, vision loss and blindness. In fact, it is the leading cause of vision loss in people with diabetic retinopathy. It is more likely the longer a person has diabetic retinopathy.

The San Diego eye doctors at California Retina Associates are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of retinal conditions. If you have diabetes, it’s important to receive a thorough eye exam on an annual basis, even if you don’t have symptoms of vision problems; please call our offices at 619-425-7755 or 760-352-7755 to schedule your appointment.

What is Diabetic Macular Edema?

Diabetic macular edema can affect those with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In some cases of diabetic retinopathy, which is a type of diabetic eye disease, new, abnormal blood vessels can grow in the retina and leak fluid or blood. DME is the result of the fluid from the damaged blood vessels seeping onto and under the macula — the central portion of the retina — and causing it to swell.

Macular edema can also develop after laser eye surgery, including surgery for cataracts, glaucoma or other retinal diseases.

The macula houses the eye’s cones, which register color vision. Other components of the macula help provide clear central vision, allowing you to register forms and color with clarity in the direction your eyes are gazing.

Symptoms of Diabetic Macular Edema

Swelling of the macula can distort your vision and lead to progressive vision loss. Symptoms of DME include the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Loss of visual contrast
  • Floaters” or patches of lost vision
  • Warped vision
  • Colors appear faded or washed out

Treating Diabetic Macular Edema

There are treatment options for DME depending on the level of vision loss and other individual factors. Sometimes we treat DME with intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF drugs like Avastin to block the activity of a protein that promotes blood vessel growth. Anti-VEGF drugs help to inhibit the growth of abnormal blood vessels and slow the progression of macular edema. We can also administer anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation.

Occasionally, vitrectomy is needed to remove the vitreous gel and blood that has accumulated in the vitreous. This is typically recommended when other treatments have failed to correct vision.

The eye doctors at California Retina Associates use advanced diagnostic technology to assess your condition and will recommend a custom treatment plan based on your unique needs.

San Diego Diabetic Macular Edema

If you are experiencing symptoms of diabetic macular edema, or you have had diabetes for many years and would like to actively manage your risk of diabetic eye disease, California Retina Associates can help. Please email us today to schedule a detailed eye exam and consultation with our team. Our accomplished eye doctors welcome patients from the greater San Diego area and beyond.