Diabetic macular edema is an eye condition and complication of diabetic retinopathy that sometimes occurs in individuals with diabetes. In diabetic macular edema, fluid builds up in the macula as a result of untreated leaking blood vessels that develop from diabetic retinopathy. The macula is an area of the eye located at the center of the retina, and it controls the ability to see intricate details. Diabetic macular edema is more common in individuals who have had diabetes for many years and in patients who have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Symptoms of diabetic macular edema include blurry vision, seeing floaters or spots in the visual field, and double vision. If left untreated, diabetic macular edema can cause blindness. The steps outlined below are helpful in treating diabetic macular edema.
Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs are used to stop the bleeding of leaking vessels and slow the growth of any abnormal blood vessels that may be present. These drugs are injected directly into the eye by ophthalmologists. Common types of anti-VEGF shots include bevacizumab, aflibercept, fluocinolone acetonide, and ranibizumab. Patients typically need to receive an injection at least once a month when first beginning this treatment. Before the injection is given, the doctor will numb the eye with anesthetic eye drops to prevent pain. Possible side effects from anti-VEGF medications include watery eyes, a burst blood vessel in the eye, swelling of the eyelids, seeing floaters in the visual field, and increased eye pressure. Patients should report any worrying side effects to their eye doctor, and they will have regular follow-up exams to monitor their vision.
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