What is diabetic macular edema (DME)?

Diabetes can damage blood vessels in the retina, causing the vessels to leak fluid. DME is a serious eye condition that can lead to vision loss.

The macula is the part of the eye responsible for central vision. In DME, fluid collects in the macula, this can cause swelling. Swelling may lead to blurry vision.


NEXT: Are you at risk for DME? >>

Prevalence of diabetes is on the rise

If you have diabetes —either type 1 or type 2— you are at risk of developing a diabetic eye disease called diabetic retinopathy, the condition that can lead to diabetic macular edema (DME).

The longer you've had diabetes, the more likely you are to get DME.

Even if you currently have your blood sugar levels under control, poor blood sugar levels in the past could put you at risk. In fact, anyone who has diabetes is at risk of developing some form of diabetic eye disease in his or her lifetime. That's why it's important to see an eye doctor for regular eye exams at least once a year.

NEXT: What are the symptoms of DME? >>

Early diagnosis of diabetic
macular edema (DME) is important

If you have diabetes and are experiencing blurred vision or loss of vision, you may have DME. Fortunately, early diagnosis can lead to early treatment of DME.

Monitor your vision for DME.

The onset of DME is painless. That's why it's important for anyone with diabetes to have a full eye exam at least once a year to help spot signs and symptoms of the disease, which include:

  • Blurred vision

  • Loss of vision or blindness

Over time, these symptoms may become more severe and difficult to manage.

NEXT: Monitor your vision at home with an Amsler Grid >>

Monitor your vision for changes in
your central vision with this self-test

Only a trained retina specialist can properly diagnose diabetic macular edema (DME) with a comprehensive eye exam. Use this Amsler Grid eye chart to self-test for vision problems that could be caused by damage to the macula, including DME. Then talk to your retina specialist about your results right away.


Download your Amsler Grid now.

NOTE: You will need Adobe Reader
to download this file.


Place the grid under adequate lighting at a normal reading distance — about 16 inches away. If you use glasses, be sure to wear them while looking at the grid.

Cover one eye and focus on the center dot.

  • Do any lines seem wavy, blurry, or distorted?
  • Are there any areas missing? Any dark areas on the grid?

Now cover the other eye and ask yourself the same questions.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, be sure to report them to your ophthalmologist or retina specialist right away.

This grid can be helpful for early detection of vision problems. However a complete eye exam is necessary for diagnosing DME. So be sure to see an ophthalmologist or retina specialist.

NEXT: How to help care for someone with DME. >>

Caring for someone with diabetic
macular edema (DME)

Living with vision loss caused by DME can be an emotional experience. Any support you provide may be greatly appreciated. Ask for help from family and friends too.

Make sure vision gets monitored regularly for the person in your care, as symptoms may worsen over time.

"DME-proof" the home

  • Remove clutter and pick up any items on the floor.
  • Space out the furniture so there's room to maneuver — create 3-foot-wide clear paths.
  • Use contrasting colors so things are easier to see.
  • Label kitchen items with white tape and a black marker or self-adhesive labels with large print.

Think big

  • Look for electronic devices with large buttons and numbers — phones, calculators, remote controls, alarm clocks

  • Find books and crossword puzzles with extra-large type — or consider audiobooks

NEXT: Learn how ILUVIEN can help patients with DME. >>