Epiretinal Membrane

When the posterior vitreous separates from the back of the eye, occasionally remnants of the vitreous may remain on the macula. In most cases, these remnants cause no problems. Very occasionally, these remnants may thicken and contract like scar tissue, causing distortion and thickening of the macula. Epiretinal membranes do not require any treatment unless they affect vision. In fact, 9 out of 10 epiretinal membranes discovered incidentally do not cause any vision problems at any point. Most epiretinal membranes are related to otherwise straight forward posterior vitreous detachments although some cases can be due to diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, blockage of retinal vessels, previous eye surgery and inflammation inside the eye.

If an epiretinal membrane causes symptoms such as distortion or blurred vision, which are sufficiently bothersome for the patient, surgery may be undertaken where the vitreous is removed and the epiretinal membrane is peeled from the surface of the macula. The visual improvement is very much dependent on the duration of vision loss from the membrane prior to surgery. Also, if there is any concurrent disease of the macula such as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, these may limit visual recovery. The doctor will assess each individual case and can make a judgement on whether ERM removal would be of benefit to the patient.

This is an educational video by the European Society of Vitreoretinal Surgeons