Diabetic Macular Edema

Macular edema is a serious eye condition that causes retinal swelling and vision issues, including blindness.

The macula is located in the center of the retina – the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye – and is the area of central vision, which helps you to see fine details. Diabetic macular edema is a serious retinal disorder that affects the macula in people with diabetes. Left untreated, it can lead to blindness.

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Diabetic macular edema and other eye conditions

In macular edema, blood vessels in the retina leak into the macula, causing it to swell and thereby resulting in blurred vision and other issues. It can be associated with other eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and retinal vein occlusion. Macular edema is the most common cause of vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy.

Macular edema symptoms

Diabetic macular edema may not produce symptoms at first. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Noticeable changes in vision
  • Colors appearing washed out or dulled
  • Straight lines appear bent or wavy

If you have diabetes, it is important to talk with your Henry Ford ophthalmologist about any changes in your vision and get a comprehensive eye exam each year.

Macular edema risk factors

Macular edema affects people with both types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2 and can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy. However, the likelihood of developing diabetic macular edema increases as diabetic retinopathy progresses. You can reduce your risk of developing macular edema by controlling your:

  • Blood sugar levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels

Macular edema diagnosis

As with a diabetic retinopathy diagnosis, diabetic macular edema is diagnosed through a series of tests, including a comprehensive eye exam. Once diagnosed, further tests can be conducted to determine the severity of the macular edema.

Macular edema treatment

At Henry Ford, we treat diabetic macular edema with a combination of laser and drug therapy. Your Henry Ford ophthalmologist will work with you to determine the best treatment or treatments for your macular edema:

  • Laser photocoagulation: This painless laser treatment is also known as focal laser treatment. During the procedure, the ophthalmologist focuses a laser on abnormal retinal blood vessels in the macula. This seals the leaking vessels and helps to destroy new vessel growth.
  • Anti-VEGF injections: Before undergoing laser treatment, your Henry Ford ophthalmologist may recommend anti-VEGF injection therapy. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein that promotes the growth of new blood vessels. With anti-VEGF intraocular injections, a special drug is injected into the vitreous – the clear fluid that fills the center of the eye – near the retina. The drug blocks growth signals of new blood vessels. Anti-VEGF therapy is also used to treat macular degeneration.
  • Intravitreal steroid injections: In this drug treatment, steroids are injected into the vitreous to reduce fluid leakage and prevent the growth of new and potentially abnormal blood vessels in the eye.

At Henry Ford, patients come first.

The Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology is committed to providing our patients with compassionate, personalized care. We feature the most advanced treatments in eye care and are dedicated to vision research – always staying at the forefront of innovation. A leader in Michigan, as well as one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the United States, we treat more than 55,000 patients per year at 12 locations throughout southeast Michigan. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it.

To schedule an appointment with a Henry Ford Ophthalmologist, please call (800) 363-7575.

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