diabetic macular edema, macular edema, retinal swelling
Diabetic Macular Edema

By Elite Bor-Shavit, M.D.

Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic macular edema is a common cause of vision loss from diabetes. One of the early effects of diabetes is to cause the blood vessels in the retina to begin to leak by weakening the inner lining of the blood vessels so that they become porous. Leakage from the retinal blood vessels may cause the center of the retina, the Macula, to actually swell, a condition called diabetic macular edema. Diabetic macular edema can occur in any stage of diabetic retinopathy and can vary quite a bit in its severity and its effect on vision.  The most effective and accurate ways to observe and diagnose diabetic macular edema are to perform a careful dilated eye examination, usually accompanied with a Fluorescein Angiogram (FA) and an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). Using the Fluorescein Angiogram, we will be able to precisely and directly observe the severity and location of “leaky” blood vessels. By using OCT, we can detect very slight thickness changes in the macula that may indicate the presence of leakage. It is important that leaking blood vessels be found as early as possible so that they can be most effectively treated. In most cases, early laser treatment and/or intravitreal injections of Vascular Endothelial Growth (VEGF) Inhibitor like Lucentis® or Eylea® will reduce the swelling and prevent further vision loss, but may not restore vision that has already been compromised.

A diagnosis of diabetic macular edema is an indication that breakdown of the retinal blood vessels from diabetes is beginning and requires careful monitoring. In the discussion about your stage of diabetic retinopathy, we will make specific recommendations about how often you will need to return for eye exams and the need for additional photographs, Fluorescein Angiograms or OCT studies. Please be sure to keep these appointments, as they are critical in helping you maintain your eye health and vision.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or even if you are just glucose intolerant, you may be at risk for diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy, and you should schedule thorough regular diabetic eye exams at D'Ambrosio Eye Care by calling 800-325-3937.