About Diabetic Macular Edema
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus affects 26 million people in the United States. One of the many symptoms of diabetes is the local and systemic inflammation of the microvascular system. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and is characterized by damage to the blood vessels of the retina and can either be proliferative or non-proliferative. Proliferative damage occurs when a reduction in oxygen levels in the retina due to impaired glucose metabolism causes fragile blood vessels to grow in the vitreous humor. Non-proliferative damage occurs when existing vessels experience poor endothelial cell linkage due to increased blood glucose levels and hypertension. Macular edema is the most common form of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In diabetic macular edema, prolonged hyperglycemia compromises endothelial cell linkage leading to vascular permeability. The leakage of fluid, solutes, proteins and immune cells cause the macula to swell and thicken. This leads to damage of the central retinal tissue and cany significantly impair sharp central vision. The prevalence of diabetes is 11.3% of the population above the age of 20, with an annual incidence of 1.9 million cases in the United States alone. In this population, the prevalence of diabetic macular edema is estimated at 30% of patients inflicted by the disease for 20 years or more.