Treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema

Steroid and anti-VEGF drugs are non-surgical treatment options for DME (diabetic macular edema). These drugs are injected into fluid inside the eye.

  • Steroids are anti-inflammatories.
  • Anti-VEGF means anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor. This drug stops blood vessel development and growth, and slows fluid leakage.
  • Anti-VEGF may be combined with laser surgery.

Laser surgery
Focal laser surgery is usually performed to treat DME on an outpatient basis. If DME affects both eyes, only one eye at a time will be treated several weeks apart. Some patients need focal laser surgery more than one time.

Before surgery, drops are administered to dilate the pupil and numb the eye. Dilation widens the surgical entry to the inside of the eye. The surgeon uses the laser to burn away fluid leakage.

According to the National Eye Institute, "Focal laser treatment helps stabilize vision and reduce the risk of vision loss by 50%." Laser surgery combined with appropriate follow-up care greatly reduces the risk of blindness.

Control vision complications
Patients can help control the onset and management of diabetic retinopathies, including DME. Stay proactive about managing diabetes.

  • Keep tight control on monitoring and managing blood sugar levels
  • Help preserve vision with regular eye examinations (eg, once a year)
  • If vision changes, call your doctor
  • Check your blood pressure; if it's high, talk with your doctor.
  • Know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels; take medication as directed.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don't smoke.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages


National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health. Facts about diabetic retinopathy. Accessed April 16, 2013.

Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM. Complications of diabetes mellitus. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders;2011.

MDConsult. Lasers in oprthalmology. Adult Health Advisor. Elsevier. 2013.