Understanding the Health Risks of Diabetic Macular Edema

Understanding the Health Risks of Diabetic Macular Edema

Precio Daramola |Mar 22, 2021

Diabetic Macular Edema Explained

Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a complication of diabetes that occurs when excess fluid starts to build up in the eye's macula. The macula is the part of the eye that allows us to focus and see fine details, and it is located in the retina, which is full of blood vessels. High blood sugar levels can damage the retina's blood vessels. The damaged blood vessels then begin to leak fluid, thereby causing swelling and other complications. This damage is called retinopathy and generally develops over time.

What Causes Diabetic Macular Edema?

As earlier stated, DME usually occurs due to high blood sugar levels. Other factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can also contribute to blood vessel damage. In other instances of diabetes, pregnancy may also increase the risk of developing DME.

Risk Factors

Since DME results from high blood sugar levels, it is common for people with diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, to be at risk for DME. Additional risk factors that can lead to DME include:

Associated Symptoms of Diabetic Macular Edema

In its early stages, there may be no symptoms. However, if you have diabetes, it is important to see an eye care doctor every year so they can examine your eyes for any changes. If you also notice any sign of retinopathy or DME, early treatment can prevent or restore vision loss. Let’s take a look at some of the common signs and symptoms of diabetic macular edema:

  • Blurry or blocked central vision
  • Distorted or "wavy" central vision (called metamorphopsia)
  • Seeing floaters or strings of floaters in your vision
  • Blind or dark areas or spots in your field of vision
  • Difficulty reading at any distance
  • Colors appear more washed out than usual

When to Call the Doctor

Call your eye doctor right away if you notice any of the above symptoms. Be sure to tell your eye doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing colors that look washed out
  • Seeing more floaters in your vision
  • Double vision

Diagnosis and Different Treatment Options

Diabetic macular edema can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. There are effective treatments available for DME. Be sure to talk to your doctor to find the right option that will work for you. If you have received a DME diagnosis, ensure that you start treatment quickly to help prevent long-term eye damage and vision loss. Your doctor can recommend any of the following treatments:

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy involves the use of tiny lasers to target damaged areas in the retina. This process seals leaking blood vessels and prevents abnormal blood vessel growth. Laser therapy is effective in maintaining your current vision level and helps prevent further loss of vision. You’ll likely need several laser treatments overtime to repair eye damage and may require additional treatments if more eye damage occurs.

Anti-VEGF Shots

When you have DME, your body tends to produce a protein called VEGF in excess. When this happens, your blood vessels begin to grow too quickly; so, they are weak and leak blood and fluid into your retina and macula.

There are three types of anti-VEGF medicines usually used for DME; they include aflibercept (Eylea), bevacizumab (Avastin), and ranibizumab (Lucentis). These Anti-VEGF shots help to inhibit the effects of the VEGF protein. However, anti-VEGF shots may not be helpful for everyone and should not be used during pregnancy.

Focal-Grid Macular Laser Surgery

This treatment type works by sealing blood vessels in your retina to slow leaking and bring down swelling. If you have DME in both eyes, your doctor will treat one eye at a time, usually within a few weeks. In some cases, a laser may be used along with anti-VEGF shots if the shots alone are not helping.


These drugs are often called steroids and are used to target inflammation. They are usually prescribed to help lessen swelling in your retina. Steroids are usually not as effective as anti-VEGF shots, and they can cause other eye problems, like cataracts and glaucoma. They are not traditionally given as first treatment.

NSAID Eye Drops

Doctors sometimes use eye drops as a preventive measure for DME before or after you have eye surgery. These drugs are called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because they help fight inflammation like steroids but do not have the same side effects. Doctors usually prescribe NSAIDs to prevent or ease swelling.

Can Diabetic Macular Edema Be Prevented?

You may not be able to prevent macular edema if you have diabetes, a pre-existing eye condition, or have suffered an eye injury in the past. However, you can follow the nutrition and lifestyle recommendations from your health care provider to avoid developing diabetes in the first place. You will likely be advised to do the following:

  • Keep your blood sugar level under control. Check your blood sugar level several times a day (ask your doctor exactly how often). The American Diabetes Association recommends people with diabetes keep their A1C levels under 7%.
  • Stop smoking or do not start. Ask your doctor for help quitting. Smoking increases your risk of diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and blocked retinal blood vessels. All those toxins damage the eyes’ tiny vessels.
  • Exercise often. Try not to go more than two days between exercising. If you do, the glucose-metabolizing effects of physical exercise will wear off.
  • Eat healthy. Follow your doctor's nutritional guidelines but, in general, avoid junk food and fast food, and try to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens.

Article Resources

Our Most Valuable advice

9 Signs of Pregnancy to Be Aware Of

Sinead Carey | March 22, 2021

What Are the Symptoms of Pregnancy? The early signs and symptoms of pregnancy can vary wildly from person to person. It is essential to be aware of the common symptoms and the possible and rare symptoms. So, what are the symptoms of pregnancy? We will dive into the specifics. Common Symptoms of Pregnancy 1. Missed Period Missing your period is most often the first sign of pregnancy. Your body recognizes the conception and stops making the hormone that sheds the lining of your womb. Your menstrual cycle is essentially paused, and you won’t have another period until after the baby is born. 2. Morning Sickness Contrary to what is shown on TV, morning sickness can also happen at noon and night. Feeling nauseous and vomiting is a normal part of early pregnancy. It is most common in the morning, and this is what coined the term. 3. Overtiredness or Fatigue You know the feeling when you sleep well but still feel tired? That is fatigue, and it is common in early pregnancy. Experts say this is due to the rise of hormone levels. This feeling tends to improve over time. 4. Frequent Urination Are you going to the bathroom every 10 minutes? This is another sign of pregnancy. Your body’s blood supply increases to support the new life, which means your kidneys must work harder. More waste plus more urine equals extra trips to the bathroom. 5. Aching Breasts Your breasts may start to feel sore and tender. You may have felt this before during your period, or it could be a completely new experience. This feeling is due to your fluctuating hormone levels and should fade with time. Some people describe this as an aching or tingling feeling. You might also experience a slight enlargement of your breasts. 6. Mild Cramps and Spotting Don’t panic if you see you have light spotting or cramping in the first few weeks. Spotting can indicate that the embryo has implanted in the lining of your womb. Implantation usually takes place a few days after you conceive and can cause blood spots or brown discharge. This symptom is crucial to know about, as it causes many people to believe they are not pregnant. If you are concerned or the bleeding persists, speak to your doctor without delay. 7. Headaches Persistent headaches can be a sign of so many things. That is why people don’t recognize them as a sign of pregnancy. If you are experiencing frequent headaches, there may be more to it than you think. Make sure you find a headache treatment option that safe for you. 8. Metallic Taste in Mouth Some people experience a metallic, coppery taste during early pregnancy. It can happen when eating or at seemingly random times throughout the day. Again, people do not consistently recognize the taste as a possibility of pregnancy. 9. Changes in Food Preferences This symptom varies from person to person, and some don’t experience it at all! You may crave certain foods; you may feel sick after certain foods; you can have a complete aversion to food altogether. Nutrition during pregnancy is important, and you should discuss this symptom with your doctor. [youmaylike] Rare Symptoms of Pregnancy Other symptoms that are rare but could affect you are: Heightened sense of smell. Heart palpitations. Increased saliva production (more drool). Nosebleeds. Swollen gums or tooth problems. More pimples or acne. Hot sweats. Are At-Home Pregnancy Tests Reliable? The sure-fire way to know if you are pregnant is to take an at-home test. These tests are reliable, and though false positives occur, it is rare. Always check the label, as different brands show different symbols to indicate pregnancy. The tests generally take a few minutes to develop, and digital tests can even display the word pregnant. When Should You Talk to a Doctor If You Think You’re Pregnant? If you suspect that you are pregnant, have a positive test result or are currently trying to get pregnant, the next step is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will want to take a complete medical history, and if you are already pregnant, they may prescribe prenatal medication. The doctor can guide you on the steps throughout the pregnancy and lend an ear if you have any questions. It is vital to discuss everything with a medical professional. Your doctor is the gateway to an informed and happy pregnancy.

Follow These 8 Tips to Prevent Balding

Elizabeth Dickson | March 22, 2021

How to Prevent Balding If balding or thinning hair is one of your worries, we have got the solutions for you. In this article, we will chat about the symptoms of balding, the causes, how to prevent balding and how to cope with hair loss. Losing a few strands of hair every day is completely normal, but what do you do when you begin losing more hair than you should? According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 80 million people in America have hereditary hair loss (alopecia). In addition, according to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), approximately 25% of men who have hereditary male pattern baldness start losing their hair before the age of 21. By the age of 50, about 85% of men are bald or have significantly thinner hair. 8 Ways to Prevent Balding If genetics is the reason for your hair loss, there might not be a lot that can be done to prevent it. However, these tips can help slow down or prevent loss if other reasons are causing it: Treat your hair gently and avoid pulling; use caution when washing, brushing and styling your hair. Avoid harsh treatments, such as coloring and perms. Protect your hair from the sun; wear a hat and avoid tanning beds. Quit smoking. Some studies suggest there is a link between balding and regular smoking. Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Avoid hot showers and shampoo that causes scalp irritation. Talk to your doctor or dietician about supplements that may help slow down your hair loss. If you are getting treatments for cancer or taking a medication that causes hair loss as a side effect, speak to your doctor about getting a cold cap or other measures to prevent hair loss. If you try the above tactics and still feel that hair loss is negatively impacting your life, it is important to seek out medical advice. First, talk to your doctor about prescription or over-the-counter treatments for hair loss. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss. Hair Loss Symptoms Hair loss can look different from person to person, depending on the severity and cause. However, here are some common symptoms to watch for. Slow and Consistent Loss of Hair Starting at the Top of the Head This is the most common form of hair loss. As you age, you can experience thinning of the hair on the top of your head, especially men. In men, this typically looks like a receding hairline or thinning hair or a thinning patch on top of the head. In women, this typically looks like the widening of the part of the hair, along with loss of hair around the forehead. Sudden Loss of Hair It's as if it has become loose from your scalp. Our bodies are extremely sensitive to changes and will work hard to cope with those changes. Therefore, environmental and emotional stress can cause you to lose handfuls of hair at a time. Thankfully, this type of hair loss is typically temporary and will stop once the stressors have been addressed. [youmaylike] Patches of Hair Loss All Over the Scalp With this type of hair loss, hair consistently falls out from the same spot on your scalp. This leaves your scalp with patches or circular spots of missing hair. Not only can this affect the hair on your head, but it can also leave patches of missing hair on your face, such as in your beard or eyebrows. Loss of Both Scalp and Body Hair This type of hair loss is less common than the others. It typically only affects individuals who are taking a strong medication or treatment, such as chemotherapy. The lost hair generally regrows with ease once the treatment has stopped. Causes of Hair Loss There are several reasons why you may experience hair loss, including: Hereditary and genetic factors. Hormonal and systemic body changes. Certain medications and medical conditions. Mechanical stress, such as consistent pulling on the hair. Emotional and environmental factors. Radiation exposure. Some degree of hair loss is entirely normal. Typically, you lose between 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. New hair strands grow at about the same rate, meaning that hair loss isn't generally noticeable until you have exceeded this number.

8 Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy

Sinead Carey | March 22, 2021

Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy Pregnancy can be an exciting and life-changing event in a person’s life. However, it also comes with many risks and challenges. So, while focusing on the positive aspects of the process is important, you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of possible complications, such as the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an ectopic pregnancy should be considered an emergency and is one of the leading causes of maternal death in the first trimester. Though the occurrence can be difficult to measure, the March of Dimes estimates that 1 in 50 pregnancies in the U.S. is ectopic. Considering that just under 4 million babies are born in the U.S. each year, this is a significant number of people suffering from it. Though this is something no one wants to think about, recognizing the signs of an ectopic pregnancy can mean the difference between life and death. What is an Ectopic Pregnancy? The word ectopic means “out of place.” Therefore, an ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg forms in the wrong place — in other words, outside of the womb. Most ectopic pregnancies are defined as “tubular” because more than 90% of ectopic cases happen in the fallopian tubes. In a normal pregnancy, the sperm and egg meet, become fertilized and travel down to attach to the lining of your womb. This is where your baby will grow for nine months. In a tubular pregnancy, the fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube before it manages to reach the womb. It is also possible for an ectopic pregnancy to occur in the ovary, cervix or even somewhere else in your belly. The problem is that these areas don’t have space or the environment to promote your baby’s growth. As a result, an ectopic pregnancy can cause heavy bleeding or a burst fallopian tube, which is potentially fatal to the mother. The unfortunate truth is that all ectopic pregnancies are non-viable and end in the loss of the pregnancy. 8 Signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy In some cases of ectopic pregnancy, the mother may not be aware that they are pregnant. However, signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy can start the same as signs of a normal pregnancy, so it is vital to be aware of them. Signs and symptoms include: Abnormal vaginal bleeding. Sudden pain in the abdomen or pelvis. Cramping pains in the pelvis. Lower back pain. Tender breasts. Nausea and vomiting. Dizziness and fainting spells. Shoulder pain. [youmaylike] Causes and Risk Factors It is still not known why some people suffer from ectopic pregnancies and others don’t. However, there are many risk factors known to increase your chances of having an ectopic pregnancy. Risk factors: Aged 35 years or older. Smoker. Previous ectopic pregnancy. Fertility treatments, such as IVF. Pelvic inflammatory disease. Scarring from prior pelvic surgery. Fertility drugs to treat infertility. Pregnancy while using an intrauterine device (IUD). Treatments Options There are two main approaches to the treatment of an ectopic pregnancy. Medication This form of treatment is less common and can only be done in certain situations. However, as an ectopic pregnancy is potentially fatal, it often requires rapid and comprehensive treatment. Medication can be effective if it is caught before the pregnancy is too far along. Your doctor will also ensure that there has been no rupture or immediate risk of a rupture. The primary medication used to treat ectopic pregnancies is methotrexate. This drug works by stopping the cells from growing. Your body will absorb the pregnancy over the course of a few weeks, and it does not require any surgery if it is successful. Surgery More often than not, emergency surgery is required. For example, in the event that your tube has ruptured, you will be required to undergo immediate surgery. This type of surgery is usually done laparoscopically, which is another word for keyhole surgery. The ectopic pregnancy is removed during surgery. In some cases, it may also be necessary to remove the ruptured fallopian tube. How to Seek Medical Help The main takeaway from this is that an ectopic pregnancy is an emergency, life-threatening situation. All of the symptoms listed above are cause for concern. If you experience severe, sudden abdominal pain accompanied by vaginal bleeding, dizziness or shoulder pain, you should seek help immediately. Likewise, if you suspect you may have an ectopic pregnancy, you should go to the emergency room without delay.