Diabetic macular edema (DME) diagnosis

Getting expert care

The later diabetic macular edema is diagnosed, the greater the chance that the condition will be further advanced and the greater the likelihood of permanently damaging your vision. For this reason, it is very important to seek the care of a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating DME as soon as possible.

Who can diagnose and treat DME?

  • Optometrists are doctors who primarily focus on vision and eye health; they can identify conditions like DME and provide referrals to the specialists who treat it
  • Ophthalmologists are doctors who specialize in vision care and are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from eye exams to eye surgery and DME treatment
  • Retina specialists are ophthalmologists who have gone on to receive additional training in diseases of the retina and are highly skilled in both surgery and treatment of diseases that involve the delicate structures inside the eye, including DME

When to get tested

If you have type 1 diabetes, you should have your first comprehensive dilated eye exam within 5 years of developing this condition.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you should have your first comprehensive eye exam as soon as your condition is diagnosed.

DME Diagnosis Image with man adjusting the woman's spectacles

Tips for living with DME

Enlarging objects

You can purchase large-print playing cards, bingo cards, crossword puzzles, calendars, TV remotes, and other such commonplace items that may be difficult to use if your vision is declining. You can also sit closer to the TV or, if you are going to a movie or a performance, get a seat up front.

DME tests

There are several common tests eye care professionals use to detect and identify diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema:

Dilated eye exam

This test uses a magnifying lens to assess your retina and optic nerve and find any problems. When you have diabetes, this test should be performed at least annually

Visual acuity test

This test uses an eye chart to measure your vision at various distances


This test measures the fluid pressure in your eyes. Increased pressure is a possible sign of glaucoma, a common and very serious problem if not detected and treated promptly

Fluorescein angiography (FA)

This test takes images of the eye to evaluate the blood flow in the back of the retina, which can affect the type of treatment you need

Optical coherence tomography (OCT)

This test uses a special camera to take cross-section images of the eye and measure the thickness of the retina to identify the extent of damage within the eye