Recognizing the symptoms of diabetic macular edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema, or DME, develops from an eye condition called diabetic retinopathy, or DR. It is a leading cause of vision loss in people with diabetes and can develop at any time in a person with DR.

In the early stages, DME can be treated. Because vision loss can occur very quickly, it is important to get regular screenings before symptoms appear.

However, up to 50% of patients with diabetes do not get their eyes examined regularly and are diagnosed when it is too late for treatment to be effective.

If DME has advanced to the point where there are visual symptoms, these may include:

  • Patches of vision loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Cloudy vision
  • Colors that look washed out or faded

At the first sign of these diabetic macular edema symptoms, it is very important to see an ophthalmologist or retina specialist to have the best chance to delay the deterioration of your vision. Talk to your doctor or optometrist about getting a referral.

Even though you may not be experiencing any symptoms, it is important to get your eyes examined at least once a year if you have diabetes.

In addition to DME-related vision loss, there are other vision problems that can be brought on by diabetes that may also require treatment, so be sure to speak with your eye care professional about any tests that you may need to identify potential complications.

See what it’s like to have DME

Normal vision
  • Normal vision two girls-Photograph depicting normal vision. It shows two young girls with shoulder length brown hair and blue eyes, one has bangs and the other has a barrette in her hair. The girl on the right has her arm around the shoulder of the girl on the left, they are both smiling with their mouths closed.
  • Normal vision orange flower-Photograph depicting normal vision. It shows a close up of an orange flower.
  • Normal vision puppy-Photograph depicting normal vision. It shows a close up a girl holding a golden retriever puppy.
  • Normal vision mobile phone-Photograph depicting normal vision. It shows a close up a hand holding a mobile phone.
Vision with DME
  • DME vision two girls-Photograph depicting vision with diabetic macular edema. It shows two young girls with shoulder length brown hair and blue eyes, one has bangs and the other has a barrette in her hair. The girl on the right has her arm around the shoulder of the girl on the left, they are both smiling with their mouths closed. However, the picture is blurry and distorted in the middle.
  • DME vision orange flower-Photograph depicting vision with diabetic macular edema. It shows a close up of an orange flower. However, the colours seem dull and slightly grey.
  • DME vision puppy-Photograph depicting vision with diabetic macular edema. It shows a close up a girl holding a golden retriever puppy. However, they are blurry, block splotches obstructing the image.
  • DME vision mobile phone-Photograph depicting vision with diabetic macular edema. It shows a close up a hand holding a mobile phone. However, the image is distorted and straight lines appear wavy.
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