What are DR & DME and how can they affect my vision?

Click on the links below to learn more about DR & DME.

What are diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic macular edema (DME)?



Nearly 8 million Americans are affected by DR, which may result in problems with vision. DME is related to DR and also causes vision problems.

  • DR and DME damage the  retina (reh‐TIN‐uh), the light‐sensitive part in the back of your eye that gathers images
  • DME occurs when DR affects the  macula (MAK‐yu‐lah). The macula is a small indent on the retina that helps you see fine details
  • If you have uncontrolled high blood sugar from diabetes, it is important to pay careful attention to your sugar levels and any problems with vision you may experience
  • In DR and DME, uncontrolled high blood sugar may damage the parts of the eye that allow you to see, leading to problems with vision

When you have DR, you may develop too much of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. This causes unhealthy blood vessel growth in the eye. These blood vessels can leak and swell, causing vision problems.


DR affects blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue called the retina, which lines the back of the eye.

Worsening DR can lead to DME. When a person has DME, the blood vessels in the back of the eye swell, weaken, and leak. This happens in a part of the retina called the macula.

The macula is responsible for sharp, central vision. DME can cause too much fluid to build up in the macula, which can lead to vision changes if left untreated.


If you have diabetes and are experiencing problems with your vision, talk to your doctor right away.

How do DR and DME affect vision?

It’s important to know that DR and DME may worsen, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms.

You may notice the following symptoms of diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy:

  • Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (“floaters”)
  • Blurry vision
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision
  • Seeing colors as dull or muted

>> Watch these videos to see how DR and DME may affect vision



These videos are meant to show you a range of symptoms you may experience. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity level of the disease and will be unique for each person. If you experience any problems with vision, contact your Retina Specialist right away.

What are risk factors for diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema?

Diabetes and uncontrolled high blood sugar may lead to DR or DME. If you do not manage your diabetes and blood sugar, you may increase your risk for problems with vision.

Risk factors for DR and DME include:

  • Duration of diabetes (the longer you have diabetes, the higher your risk for DR and DME)
  • Uncontrolled high blood sugar
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Pregnancy
  • Tobacco use

Higher rates of DR and DME have been found in people with black, Hispanic, or Native American ancestry.

What you can do about DR and DME

It’s as simple as A‐S‐K:

Asking your doctor if LUCENTIS is right for you.

Seeing your Retina Specialist or ophthalmologist regularly.

Keeping your high blood sugar controlled.

If you think you have problems with vision from DR or DME, make an appointment with a Retina Specialist right away.

If you don’t have a Retina Specialist, ask your primary care physician, endocrinologist, or ophthalmologist about a referral.

Patient support for people with DR

Or call 1-866-LUCENTIS (1-866-582-3684), Monday through Friday, 9 AM-8 PM ET.

Learn more about what happens in eyes with DR and DME