Diabetic macular edema (DME) occurs when blood vessels in the retina of patients with diabetes begin to leak into the macula, the part of the eye responsible for detailed central vision. These leaks cause the macula to thicken and swell, progressively distorting acute vision. Ultimately, the swelling may not lead to blindness, but the effect can cause a severe loss in central vision.
DME is the major cause of vision loss in people with diabetic retinopathy. People with diabetes have a 10 percent risk of developing the condition during their lifetime. An estimated 21 million people around the globe have DME.1 This number will only continue to grow as the number of people with type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing in every country.2 Current estimates are that there will be 1.5 times the number of diabetic patients in 20 years’ time.2
For a long time, the standard of care for the treatment of DME was laser photocoagulation because there were few other options. This is a retinal procedure in which a laser is used to cauterize leaky blood vessels or to apply a pattern of burns to reduce edema. However, it has undesirable side effects, including partial loss of peripheral and night vision.
As a result of these side effects and a desire for improved vision outcomes, new therapies have recently been approved and are now being widely used by retinal specialists. These include corticosteroid injections and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) agents, both of which offer improvements in vision but are limited by a need for multiple injections to maintain a therapeutic effect.
In an effort to provide sustained vision improvements in DME, Alimera Sciences has developed a corticosteroid microimplant.
1. Yau JW, Rogers SL, et al; Meta-Analysis for Eye Disease (META-EYE) Study Group. Diabetes Care. 2012;35:556-564.
2. International Diabetes Federation Website. http://www.idf.org/diabetesatlas/5e/the-global-burden. Accessed 21 February 2013.