Learn more about Epiretinal Membrane, including The Symptoms, The Causes, and The Treatments.
An Epiretinal membrane is a clear layer of cells that form across and on top of the macula. It has the appearance of ‘cellophane’ and is effectively like scar tissue. The macula is located in the retina; the retina is a light sensitive layer of the eyes. The macula is how you see colour, fine detail and gives you your central vision. Epiretinal membrane is also known as cellophane maculopathy, epi-macular membrane and macular pucker.
In the early stages an Epiretinal membrane will not necessarily affect your vision
When the Epiretinal membrane (scar tissue) stops growing it contracts. The contraction causes the macula to ‘wrinkle up’ and can cause visual disturbances such as:
• Straight lines appear wavy
• More difficulty in reading
• Poorer vision
The cause of an Epiretinal membrane in a patient can be unknown (idiopathic) or caused by posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) where the jelly (vitreous) comes away from the retina. An Epiretinal membrane is common in patients over the age of 50. Epiretinal membranes can also occur secondary to other eye conditions or surgery, these Epiretinal membranes tend to affect the patients vision more.
Most patients with an Epiretinal membrane do not require treatment if it is only affecting their vision slightly or not at all. These patients are usually just monitored by their local opticians or their ophthalmologist.
If the Epiretinal membrane is affecting your vision, everyday activities and causing distortion, a surgery called a vitrectomy can be performed. This is where the jelly (vitreous) at the back of the eye is removed and the epiretinal membrane layer is peeled off. Your aftercare will include using eye drops, the eye will take 2-6 weeks to heal and the vision will gradually improve over the next couple of months. In some cases patients may not see an improvement at all due to the damage already caused by the epiretinal membrane. Only a small percentage of people experience the return of the epiretinal membrane post eye surgery.
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