Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema (DME) is an eye condition that occurs in people who have had diabetes for a long time. Edema is swelling that is caused by a condition called diabetic retinopathy, where fluid leaks out of blood vessels in the eye.

Among adults who have had diabetes for at least 20 years, 3 out of 10 will develop DME. Among adults who already have advanced diabetic retinopathy, 7 out of 10 will develop DME. As many as 24,000 Americans with diabetes go blind each year in the US as a result of diabetic retinopathy.

There are two types of DME:

  • Focal: Small patches of damage in the center of the retina
  • Diffuse: Widespread damage visible throughout the part of the retina where vision is sharpest

Doctors Who Treat Diabetic Macular Edema

As your diabetic macular edema (DME) is diagnosed and treated, you may see several different doctors and specialists, each focused on a different aspect of care. The following providers may be part of your care team for managing this condition:

  • Endocrinologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the hormones and glands. The endocrinologist will help you to manage your diabetes.
  • Ophthalmologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye.

  • Optometrist: A provider who is professionally trained and licensed to examine the eyes and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses. If DME causes your vision to get worse, the optometrist can provide new eyewear to help you see better.

  • Vision specialist: A provider who is trained to assess your vision and help you manage daily activities if your vision gets worse. The vision specialist can help you find large type or audio books and learn to read braille.
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