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Related eye conditions

DME develops from a related eye condition called Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), a complication of diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

DME develops from a related eye condition called Diabetic Retinopathy (DR). Like DME, DR is a complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and shares many of the same risk factors. As of 2015, DR was estimated to affect approximately 100 million people worldwide, with a third of people with diabetes displaying signs of the disease.

DR is a progressive disease that affects blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye and is associated with many of the same risk factors as diabetes and DME, including high blood glucose and high blood pressure. In DR, high levels of blood glucose can weaken, damage or block the blood vessels in the retina, preventing the retina from receiving enough blood or oxygen.

There are two types of DR:

  • Non-proliferative · The early stage of the disease where damage to the small blood vessels leads to leakage of fluid into and tiny hemorrhages in the retina. Vision loss can occur here, including from resulting DME.
  • Proliferative · A more advanced stage of the disease where new blood vessels grow, potentially leading to bleeding within the eye, retinal detachment, scarring and other complications. This stage can cause severe vision loss.

DME develops when DR starts to affect the central part of the retina – the macula – which is important for central vision.

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An easy-to-understand guide to the medical terms