Diabetic macular edema (DME) is an accumulation of fluid in the macula which is the central portion of the retina that is responsible for central, high-resolution, color vision. DME can occur in individuals with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and it is a consequence of poorly controlled blood glucose that contributes to changes in the small vessels in the retina–a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy lead to blood or fluid accumulation on the retina, as well as causing swelling (edema) of the macula.
Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide, accounting for about 2.6% of all cases of global blindness. DME, which affects about 2 million Americans: about 10% of people with diabetes and about 70% of those with the most severe form of diabetic retinopathy, is known to contribute greatly to this vision loss.
Several known risk factors are known to contribute to the development of DME, including the length of time living with diabetes, unregulated blood glucose levels, poor diet, and history of cardiovascular disease.