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Epiretinal Membranes (Macular Pucker/Macular Wrinkle)

What is an Epiretinal Membrane (ERM)?

An Epiretinal Membrane (ERM) is a thin sheet of fibrous tissue that can develop on the surface of the macula. The macula is the area of the retina that gives us our fine detail vision as well as sharp focusing ability. This tissue causes traction which can distort and/or cause swelling of the retina making it harder to see. An ERM is also sometimes called a macular pucker, surface wrinkling retinopathy or cellophane maculopathy.

Though an ERM will not cause complete vision loss, it can affect the center portion of the vision. Symptoms of an ERM are as follows:

  • Decreased vision or loss of central vision. Central vision allows the eyes to see ahead to read or drive or see fine details.
  • Distorted or blurred vision.
  • Double vision.
  • Wavy vision.
  • Problems reading small print.

Eye conditions that put a person at risk for developing an ERM are:

  • Posterior vitreous detachment: Separating of the gel that fills the back of the eye to the retina.
  • Retinal tear or detachment: A retinal tear is a break in the retina whereas retinal detachment occurs when the retina pulls away from the back of the eye.
  • Injuries: Eye injuries or traumas can cause ERMs.
  • Surgery: Eye surgeries, such as cataract surgery, can cause ERMs.
  • Retinal vascular diseases: Conditions affecting the blood vessels in the eyes, such as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy can affect people with diabetes
  • Ocular Inflammation

Not all epiretinal membranes require surgery. If the condition is very mild, and has little or no effect on your vision, then surgery will generally be unnecessary. 

In more severe cases, epiretinal membrane surgery is generally necessary to remove the membrane. Following epiretinal membrane removal, the vision is typically more blurred initially and will gradually improve as the eye and retina heal. Vision can gradually improve up to 3-6 months following surgery.

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