An epiretinal membrane is a very thin layer of fibrous tissue that can form on the surface of your retina (the focusing surface at the back of your eye). It can act as a film over your macula (the sharp focusing area of the retina) through which it is harder for you to see. In severe cases, the epiretinal membrane may contract like scar tissue, ‘puckering’ the retina and distorting your vision further.
Not all epiretinal membranes require treatment. If your vision is only mildly affected, surgery may not be the right option.
When surgery is required, the procedure involved is called a vitrectomy.
Before your surgery, you’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb your eye so you don’t feel any pain.
Your surgeon will use the latest ‘no-stitch’ surgical techniques to make tiny incisions in the white of your eye. This type of surgery means your eye will heal faster, and you should feel virtually no irritation after surgery.
Your eye may also be treated with steroids, gas, laser or freezing treatments, depending on the exact situation.
After surgery, you should be able to go home almost straight away, and you can usually resume normal, non-strenuous activities the day after. You’ll need to wear a patch on your eye until the following morning, and we will give you eye drops and antibiotics to use for up to four weeks after surgery.
Most patients have better vision after epiretinal membrane surgery, and regaining perfect vision isn’t unusual. Still, it does not always go back to completely normal. It can take three to 12 months for your vision to improve fully. How much and how soon your vision improves after surgery depends on several things. Primarily, your age and how far the epiretinal membrane has advanced.
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As part of his ophthalmology specialty training, Dr Dunne gained valuable experience in major centres such as Auckland and Wellington, with a final two years undertaking Medical Retina advanced training based at the Greenlane Eye Clinic in Auckland. LEARN MORE
Epiretinal membranes are thin, transparent layers of fibrous tissues that form a film on the inner surface of the retina.
Epiretinal membranes (ERMs) most often occur in people over age 50. According to The American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), at least 2 percent of people over 50 years old and 20 percent over age 75 have ERMs, but most do not need treatment.
Up to 20 percent of people with ERMS have them in both eyes, but symptoms and severity for each eye differ. Click here to read more.
ERMs, also commonly known as cellophane maculopathy or macular puckers, are avascular (having few or no blood vessels), semitranslucent, fibrocellular membranes that form on the inner surface of the retina. They most commonly cause minimal symptoms and can be simply observed, but in some cases they can result in painless loss of vision and metamorphopsia (visual distortion). Generally, ERMs are most symptomatic when affecting the macula, which is the central portion of the retina that helps us to distinguish fine detail used for reading and recognizing faces. Click here to read more.
Epiretinal membrane is a very fine layer of scar tissue or membrane that has formed across the surface of the retina when the vitreous gel inside the eye has altered due to aging changes in the vitreous jelly and has caused an area of superficial irritation in the retina. It is the healing response which has caused this fine membrane to develop, which in turn, has shrunk slightly causing a mechanical wrinkling and distortion if the retina. In most patients there is very slow growth of this membrane which eventually stops growing.
These membranes are usually clear, and in many people do not produce any significant disturbance in vision. In some cases, over a period of time a thicker membrane may form, which then contracts and pulls on the retina, giving the retina a wrinkled appearance. When this happens, you may notice that your central vision becomes blurred with distortion in lines or letters. Click here to read more.