Epiretinal Membrane

In its early stages, an epiretinal membrane can most likely be monitored by your doctor, but if it progresses, a surgery known as a vitrectomy may be necessary.

What Is an Epiretinal Membrane?

To maintain its shape, your eye is filled with a clear, gel-like fluid called vitreous. It’s natural for cells from within your eye to dislodge into the vitreous. Eventually, those displaced cells may begin sticking together to form a very thin, fibrous sheet of tissue at the back of the eye between the vitreous and the retina. This is one way for an epiretinal membrane to form.

The second way happens when the vitreous shrinks and pulls away from the retina, a natural occurrence as we age. In some patients, when the vitreous pulls away, it causes a small amount of damage to the retina. As the damage heals, it creates a thin layer of scar tissue.

An epiretinal membrane has several aliases — macular pucker, macular fibrosis, surface wrinkling retinopathy, or cellophane maculopathy. Regardless of which term you use, this condition is common and painless. For most patients, it causes almost no visual impairment and simply requires monitoring. Should surgery become necessary, Vance Thompson Vision’s world-class team is capable of not only performing the vitrectomy procedure, but guiding you through the aftercare as well.

Treatment for an Epiretinal Membrane

When an epiretinal membrane thickens and disrupts your vision, your doctor may recommend a vitrectomy, a procedure used for several retinal conditions.

Vitrectomy surgery is an outpatient procedure that removes the eye’s vitreous so that the epiretinal membrane can be separated from the macula more easily. Once the membrane has been peeled away, the eye is filled with a special saline solution that, over time, the body naturally replaces with vitreous.

Generally, patients experience mild pain and discomfort from this procedure that may include wearing an eye patch. It is important to follow all pre- and post-op instructions.

Monitor Your Vision at Home

Patients with epiretinal membranes can monitor their vision by downloading and printing their own Amsler chart. Post yours in an easy-to-see place such as your refrigerator for a daily check of your visual acuity. Step-by-step instructions are included with your download.


What to Expect

If you have a vision problem that requires advanced care, it’s a good idea to schedule a consultation at Vance Thompson Vision. It’s in your best interest to learn the source of any cloudy or distorted vision as soon as possible. Retina care, in particular, can be especially delicate and benefits from early intervention.

At your consultation, extensive testing and measurements will be performed on your eyes. Based on those results, your doctor will customize a care plan to fit your unique eyes and their condition(s). That care plan will be adjusted frequently based on how you respond to treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How serious is an epiretinal membrane?

In the world of eye diseases, the formation of an epiretinal membrane is considered a common and manageable condition. Usually the condition can simply be monitored, but once it affects your vision and interferes with daily activities, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy.

Will an epiretinal membrane go away on its own?

Once formed, an epiretinal membrane rarely resolves without surgical intervention.

What causes epiretinal membranes?

There are two main causes of an epiretinal membrane, both of which happen naturally. Cells that have dislodged into the vitreous may clump together at the back of the eye forming a thin covering on the retina. Or, as we age, the vitreous may pull away from the retina causing a layer of scar tissue.

Can cataract surgery cause an epiretinal membrane?

This is an area of extensive research. At this time, the data supporting a causal relationship between epiretinal membranes and cataract surgery is inconclusive.

Is this condition covered by insurance?

Treatment and care of an epiretinal membrane is usually covered by insurance as this type of care is generally categorized as medically necessary.

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Early intervention truly is the best treatment. Call our friendly, professional team today to schedule your retina consultation.

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