Epiretinal Membrane

What is Epiretinal Membrane?

The macula is part of the retina of the eye. When pulled and contracted, by the presence of an epiretinal membrane, it can cause distortion in vision.

The eye is often compared to a camera. The front of the eye contains a lens that focuses the images on the inside of the back of the eye. This area, called the retina, is covered with special nerve cells that react to light. These nerve cells are located very close to each other in the middle of the retina, where the eye focuses on the images we see. This small part of the retina is called the macula.

The macula is usually located flat on the inner back surface of the eye. Sometimes cells can grow inside the eye by contracting and pulling the macula. Occasionally, an injury or medical condition creates strands of scar tissue inside the eye. These are called epiretinal membranes and can pull the macula, leading to distortion of vision.

Before surgery

prin meta

After surgery

Sometimes the epiretinal membrane is the result of an injury or medical condition, such as diabetes, affecting the eye. Sometimes epiretinal membranes may form after eye surgery, including cataract surgery. The cause of most cases of epiretinal membrane is not known.

It is not uncommon for someone to have an epiretinal membrane and have normal vision. However, the membranes tend to change over time and the following symptoms may appear:

  • The ability to see fine details when looking directly at an object, no matter how close or far it is, begins to decrease.
  • Vision changes so that the straight lines look wavy or broken.

If any of these symptoms occur, it is important to make an appointment with your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. The ophthalmologist will use a slit-lamp to examine the inside of your eye for epiretinal membranes.Your doctor may also use special imaging devices, including optical coherence tomography, to evaluate the epiretinal membrane.

Your ophthalmologist may recommend not treating the epiretinal membrane if it does not cause significant vision problems. Instead, may simply recommend that the patient have eye examinations more frequently than usual to make sure that the epiretinal membrane does not change and causes problems. The epiretinal membrane that causes vision problems can be treated with surgery.

The operation to remove theepiretinal membrane is usually performed under local anesthesia and so the patient is awake but does not feel the procedure.

The first part of the operation to treat the epiretinal membrane is the removal of gel-like material that fills the back of the eye. This fluid is called the vitreous fluid, and the process of its removal is called a vitrectomy.

The surgeon will make small incisions in the eye and insert special instruments to remove the vitreous fluid. The surgeon will also remove the epiretinal membranes that are causing the macular pucker. This will allow the macula to lie flat on the back of the eye and improve vision problems.

In most cases, surgery puts the macula flat against the back of the eye and allows for partial improvement of vision. The best way for the patient to avoid problems and have the best chances of regaining vision is to follow the advice of his/her surgeon, use all medications as recommended and keep all appointments after surgery.

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