Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the portion of the retina known as the macula, due to a leakage in blood vessels.

The macula is the part of the retina present in the back. It is composed of a high concentration of photoreceptors - rods and Cones. These specialised eye cells detect incoming light from objects and relay the information to the brain, to enable a clear perception of images.

In a healthy individual, the macula and other parts of the retina function normally, thus ensuring proper eyesight. However, in people suffering from diabetes, which is a chronic disorder, a complication called diabetic retinopathy arises. Also Read: How to recognise signs of diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy refers to an instance of severe damage to the retina in the eyes of a person suffering from diabetes. In case it is left unattended, serious consequences negatively affecting vision invariably develop, the foremost among them being diabetic macular edema.

Diabetic macular edema

Diabetic macular edema is of two types:

Focal DME:

This occurs due to irregularities in the blood vessels in the eyes.

Diffuse DME:

This develops as a result of the widening or swelling of the capillaries in the retina.

Diabetic macular edema needs to be treated promptly in order to maintain the routine activity of cells and tissues of the eyes. Hence, it is very essential to understand the signs of eye problems in diabetics, in order to provide appropriate medical care.


The characteristic symptoms displayed by a person suffering from diabetic macular edema include:

  • Blurry vision as in the case of keratoconus
  • Still objects appear to be floating
  • Perceiving things in double
  • Partial blindness as in the case of uveitis
  • Intense pain in both the eyes

Diagnosis And Treatment

The doctor initially examines the external physical signs of the patient, carefully looking for blood leaks in the eyes. He or she also examines the patient’s medical history, to look for any underlying risk factors that occur commonly in a person with type 2 diabetes and hence, increases the possibility of acquiring diabetic macular edema. Also Read: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

These include hypertension or high blood pressure, excessive fluid retention in body tissues or hyperlipidemia i.e. elevated levels of fatty acids in the blood.

Once the diagnosis of diabetic macular edema is confirmed in the diabetic patient, the pertinent treatment measures are carried out.

These primarily comprise advanced laser surgeries such as focal laser treatment for focal DME and grid laser treatment for diffuse DME.

Post successful completion of the surgery, leakage of blood vessels in eyes is stopped and the diabetic patient recovers from symptoms of DME within a period of 3 to 6 months.