Vision tools, rehabilitation, and lifestyle changes can all help improve the experience of living with diabetic macular edema (DME).

Macular edema is a condition that involves swelling in the eye that may cause blurry vision. In certain cases, the side effects of diabetes can cause macular edema.

About 1 in 15 people with diabetes develop DME. Individuals with blood pressure or blood sugar levels outside the normal range may have a higher risk of DME.

There are a number of treatments that can help with DME symptoms, but many people with this condition do not respond fully to current treatment options. These individuals may benefit from certain tools to aid living with DME.

Yearly exams and quick treatment can help prevent these issues.

This article will examine tips for living with DME. Keep reading to learn about low vision aids, low vision rehabilitation, and more.

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Macular edema involves swelling in the retina. This swelling can lead to blurry vision or vision loss. People with DME may notice that objects look wavy. They may also notice that colors appear more faded than usual.

Low vision aids can help improve vision for people with this condition. For example, magnifying glasses can help with reading or other sight-intensive tasks. Different options for magnifying glasses may include:

  • magnifying lenses that clip on to glasses
  • reading glasses with magnifying lenses
  • handheld magnifying glasses
  • stand magnifiers for reading books

Some people with DME benefit from half-eye spectacles. These powerful glasses are especially useful when reading for long periods of time.

To learn more about low vision aids for DME, visit a doctor. A medical professional can perform an evaluation and recommend the most appropriate device.

Certain medical professionals offer low vision rehabilitation for DME. These professionals may include ophthalmologists, occupational therapists, or low vision specialists.

During low vision rehabilitation, a healthcare professional will assess current eye function. They can then recommend strategies for maximizing the remaining vision. They may prescribe certain devices that can help with day-to-day tasks. Or they may offer rehabilitation exercises to help with writing, reading, or completing chores.

Research has shown that low vision rehabilitation can help people with DME regain a sense of independence. This can go a long way toward improving life with DME.

Individuals with DME may find it challenging to navigate familiar work or home environments. Organizing these environments can simplify this navigation as vision changes. A few tips for organizing the home and workspaces include:

  • labeling food or drawers with large-print labels
  • using safety pins to organize clothing by color
  • keeping matched socks together with a sock lock before washing and drying
  • marking preferred stovetop settings with puff paint or silicone caulk

Organization can also help people identify different bills while shopping. Folding each $1 or $5 bill in a particular way can make it easier to select the right bill at checkout. Some final tips that may help individuals with DME include:

  • keeping track of medications with a pill organizer
  • requesting checks with large print from the bank
  • organizing ingredients before cooking a meal
  • inserting an index finger while pouring drinks to avoid overfilling

Adjusting to life with DME may require some creative thinking. However, finding and implementing organizational strategies can help make this process easier.

There are many treatments available to help prevent DME from worsening. Injections of anti-VEGF drugs can reduce or eliminate DME symptoms in some cases. Laser treatments may also help keep DME symptoms from getting worse.

Some individuals are at a greater risk of developing new or worsening DME symptoms. Having blood pressure or blood sugar levels outside normal ranges can increase this risk. Smoking can also increase the risks associated with DME.

To learn more about how to prevent DME from worsening, speak with a medical professional. A doctor can identify risk factors and recommend strategies to minimize DME symptoms.

The following are some questions people frequently ask about DME.

Can you drive with DME?

DME can cause contrast sensitivity for certain individuals. This means that they may not be able to distinguish between contrasting colors or levels of light. In certain cases, this can prevent individuals with DME from driving.

Do glasses help with DME?

Many people with DME receive a prescription for glasses to help with their vision. Doctors may delay prescribing glasses until they have finished certain treatments. This is to ensure that the treatment has its full effect before determining which glasses to prescribe.

Wearing UV-protective sunglasses can also help people with DME. Reducing UV light exposure may keep DME symptoms from getting worse.

Can people naturally reduce DME?

Research has found that certain diets can help protect against DME. Eating a diet rich in fruits, fiber, fish, tea, and vegetables can decrease the risk of developing DME. Individuals with DME should speak with a doctor to learn more about whether dietary changes can help reduce their symptoms.

The research on natural medicine for DME remains limited. Future studies may shed more light on natural or homeopathic treatments for DME.

Can DME resolve itself?

Research has shown that intensive treatment can help decrease DME progression. But in most cases, DME does not resolve on its own and does require professional care.

What makes DME worse?

People who have had diabetes for longer are more likely to develop DME. Consuming alcohol, having a history of cataract surgery, and being male are also risk factors for DME. Exposure to UV light can worsen DME symptoms.

Diabetic macular edema is a condition that involves swelling within the eye. Over time, DME can have negative effects on vision.

People living with DME can benefit from low vision aids such as half-eye spectacles or magnifying glasses. Low vision rehabilitation can also help these individuals develop strategies for managing life with vision loss.

There are many tools and tips to help people with DME find relief. With the right support, individuals with DME can manage their symptoms and embrace a full and healthy lifestyle.