KUALA LUMPUR: Diabetic macular edema (DME) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) are common microvascular complications in people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease affecting the blood vessels of the retina. DME occurs when fluid leaks into the center of the macula, the light-sensitive part of the retina responsible for sharp, direct vision. Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreo-Retina Surgeon, Dr Barkeh Hanim Jumaat said out of 10,856 patients that were registered with the Diabetic Eye Registry in Malaysia, more than two thirds have never had any prior eye examination. "About 92% of patients have Diabetes Mellitus type II. "With the incidences of diabetes steadily climbing in our country, it is projected that the number of people impacted with DME will also grow," she said in a media briefing at the Gardens Hotel here today. "DME is the leading cause of moderate-to-severe vision loss in patients with diabetes, and is a leading cause of blindness in working age populations in most developed countries," she said. Dr Barkeh said the latest treatment available for DME is an anti vascular endothelial growth factor (Anti-VEGF) which is injected into the eye. "With the new anti-VEGF option, patients require initial monthly injections for the first five months followed by every other month until stabilisation is achieved," she said. Anti VEGF treatment has been shown to rapidly improve vision, reduce the risk of further vision loss among patients with DME, with low rates of ocular and non-ocular harm. Barkeh said the biggest worry is that many people living with diabetes are of working age, hence complications that arise can lead to loss of productivity. "It is therefore important to screen for and diagnose diabetes complications, such as diabetic retinopathy as early as possible to prevent permanent vision loss and improve patient outcomes," she said.