Diabetic macular edema: protect your eyes from “sugar”

06/22/2022 – 15:10

Diabetic macular edema
How to protect your eyesight if you have diabetes

Retired Hedi E. has been diagnosed with diabetic macular edema for several years.

Photo: BPR

Retired Hedi E. has been diagnosed with diabetic macular edema for several years.

In diabetes mellitus, regular check-ups are important to identify and treat any secondary conditions in time

Diabetes mellitus can literally open your eyes. Patient Hedi E. also experienced this and faced new challenges. A 70-year-old man was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 21. As with many others, she does not initially notice that her eyes are getting worse and worse. When it became increasingly difficult for her to see the signs while driving, she was first prescribed glasses. But even with visual aids, Hedi’s vision decreases significantly.

He has regular check-ups, including an ophthalmologist, for long-term diabetes. There he finally deals with change. Your doctor suspects that it is a secondary disease of diabetes mellitus, and will determine so-called diabetic macular edema.

The retiree quickly understands that she doesn’t have time to waste and discusses treatment options with her doctor. This encourages her and explains that she can maintain her eyesight through regular injecting treatment. “At first I was afraid of the injection. But after the first fight, I realized that it wasn’t so bad after all, “Hedi recalls with a smile, adding,” It’s also worth fighting for eyesight. “She quickly noticed an improvement in her eyesight. Today, she is very grateful to her doctor and glad that they took this step together at the time.

Keep your eyes on the eyes

As with Hedi, more than 8.5 million people with diabetes mellitus live in Germany – regular check-ups are important for the early detection and treatment of possible secondary diseases. An appointment with an ophthalmologist should also be considered. Eye diseases are often already at an advanced stage when the affected person notices the first changes. This can result in the disability suffering from vision loss, which often cannot be completely eliminated. Especially those with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, should check their eyes regularly, no matter how old they are.

Meetings with an ophthalmologist are very popular and waiting times can be long. But the important thing is that the wait pays off. Early and early initiation of treatment may be crucial for the course of the disease.

Diabetes can get into the eye

Diabetes mellitus affects the whole body. The longer diabetes is present, the higher the risk of complications. Affected people often think primarily of cardiovascular disease or, for example, diabetic foot, because highly fluctuating blood sugar or elevated blood sugar levels lead to deposits and damage to blood vessels. What many do not know: the eyes can also be affected. Damaged blood vessels can lead to impaired blood circulation, which the ophthalmologist may see as minor bleeding or swelling of the retina. Patients often do not notice these changes because they are painless and were not initially associated with any visual impairment. When all this happens in the eye, it is called diabetic retinopathy.

This can lead to the development of a chronic disease, so-called diabetic macular edema – abbreviated DME. Damaged blood vessels can lead to a lack of oxygen in the eye after a while. To prevent this, the body creates new blood vessels in the eye. The mediator VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) is responsible for this. However, these blood vessels are leaking, fluid can leak and flow into the cell layers and retina. Due to the accumulation of fluid, vision is significantly reduced, especially in the macula, ie at the point of sharpest vision on the retina.

Disabilities may see uneven, distorted, blurred, or wavy vision, and the image may appear unpredictable.

Possible treatment of diabetic macular edema

Vision changes are initially imperceptible, so regular check-ups with an ophthalmologist are important. It examines the ocular background and can detect changes at an early stage. Attention: It is not enough to go to optics here. If an ophthalmologist detects DME, regular check-ups and, above all, early initiation of treatment are important. Treatment dates should be adhered to on a regular basis. Here, treatment with an active ingredient that inhibits growth factor VEGF in the eye is recommended to stop unwanted vascular growth. The drug is injected directly into the eye. It is encouraging that vision loss due to DME can be well treated with medication through this usually painless routine.

Visible successes

Regular treatments are also necessary for Hedi E. and it is responsible for the fact that she can pursue her varied hobbies again. She enjoys reading, leading a singing group for seniors, letting her creativity run wild as she paints, and enjoying the sun in her garden – where she takes care of her pond and cuts flowers. Driving is no longer a problem for them either. She doesn’t like to ride only in the dark and in extremely wet conditions. However, he also knows that regular check-ups are important and that treatment appointments must take place. “I’m very strict about check-ups and treatment dates, and I have my eye background checked regularly. It’s a secret why I’m so happy to be able to pursue my hobbies again.”

Diabetic Eye Initiative – information and exchange

The Diabetic Eye initiative from the Blind and Visually Impaired Vocational Training Center (BFW Düren), the Early Detection of Diabetic Eye Diseases (IFDA), the Diabetes and Eyes Working Group (AGDA) and Bayer offer useful diabetes information and services and tips. You will also find a series of personal videos with many tips for improving everyday life and the possibility of downloading a patient brochure.

The Facebook page of the same name, www.facebook.com/dasdiabetischeauge, already has more than 21,000 subscribers. The platform offers disabled people and their relatives the opportunity to exchange ideas.

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