The retina is a light sensitive layer that lines the inner surface of the back of the eye and acts like a camera film to capture light. The light that reaches the retina forms an image which is sent to, and interpreted by, our brain – this is how we see. The most image-sensitive area of the retina is concentrated on a small central zone, called the macula.
When a thin, semi-translucent layer of fibrous material forms a film over the retina, a condition known as Epiretinal Membrane (ERM) is developed. ERM is also known as cellophane maculopathy or macular puckers. If the ERM forms over the macula, vision will be distorted.
Symptoms and Causes
Most patients who have mild ERM will show no symptoms; diagnosis is only via retinal exam or a non-invasive cross-sectional optical scan. As the condition progress, visual distortion starts to occur – e.g. straight lines become wavy, images appearing larger or smaller than they are. Decreased central visual acuity will also begin development.
The most common cause is an age-related condition called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), where the vitreous gel that fills the eye separates from the retina. The gel eventually settles on the macula, forming a membrane. Other causes may include
In mild cases of epiretinal membrane where vision is not yet affected, treatment may not be required immediately; however, close monitoring is warranted. In more severe cases, epiretinal membranes and vitreous gel can be removed surgically via vitrectomy under a local anaesthetic.
At Queensland Eye & Retina Specialists, our doctor will use the latest state-of-the-art precision equipment to help assess your eye. Our specialist surgeon will then discuss an individualised treatment plan for your best visual outcome.
As with all surgery, there are some risks involved which will be discussed with you at your consultation.
For more information on epiretinal membranes, head to one of the links below
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)
Download PDF documents about ERM and a wide variety of other eye conditions.
American Society of Retinal Specialists (ASRS) - Epiretinal Membranes
Read more about epiretinal membranes and access printable fact sheets on the condition.