Spotting symptoms of diabetic macular edema

By the time you notice symptoms, diabetic macular edema could already be causing permanent damage. Regular eye exams are key.

Diabetic macular edema is a serious complication of diabetes in which damaged blood vessels at the back of your eye (retina) leak fluid. This fluid can cause swelling (edema) in the part of your retina that's responsible for sharp central vision (macula).

Most people with diabetic macular edema have mild or no symptoms. However, if left untreated, this condition can lead to vision loss. Symptoms of macular edema and diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Floating spots in your vision (floaters)
  • Decreased vision

All symptoms are serious

By the time you notice symptoms, diabetic macular edema could already be causing permanent damage to your macula. The macula is the part of your eye that allows you to see details, recognize faces and read words on a page, so any injury to it could cause severe vision impairment.

Call your doctor right away if you notice any symptoms. He or she can assess the seriousness of the condition and determine if diabetic macular edema already exists.

Don't wait for symptoms

Don't wait until you see symptoms to take steps to protect your vision:

  • Get a comprehensive eye exam at least once every year or two. During this exam, your eye doctor can dilate your eyes or use retinal photography to get a close look at your retina. This can help your doctor diagnose diabetic macular edema at its earliest stages. Follow your doctor's advice on how frequently to have an exam.
  • Control your numbers. Keeping you blood sugar and blood pressure levels under control may help lower your chances of developing diabetic macular edema. Ask your doctor about the best way to manage your numbers based on your health history.

If you have diabetes, it's important to take an active role in preventing and managing eye problems. With early detection and treatment, diabetic macular edema may be controlled and vision loss can be prevented and sometimes even reversed.

March 02, 2018 See more In-depth