EPIRETINAL MEMBRANE

This condition occurs when a fine layer of scar tissue grows on the inner surface of the macula.  Over time the scar tissue can contract leading to reduced vision and distortion.

Causes:

  • Idiopathic:  This is most common and means no predisposing factor.
  • Inflammatory eye conditions (Uveitis)
  • Intraocular bleeding
  • Laser treatment

Symptoms:

  1. Distortion:  Here lines appear wavy.  An Amsler Chart can pick this up.
  2. Reduced vision.

Investigations:

  1. OCT:  This takes a snapshot of the macula using light waves.  It gives a highly detailed and sensitive image of the macula and the scar tissue.  In most cases this investigation will be all that is required.
  2. Fluorescein Angiogram:  Here is a special yellow dye called Fluorescein is injected into your vein.  The dye highlights the blood supply of the macula and its anatomy.  It may be utilised if other macular pathology is suspected.

TREATMENT:

  • Observation:  If the vision is good and there are few symptoms then no treatment is required.  Epiretinal membranes can stay dormant for many years not requiring any treatment.
  • Surgery:  This operation is known as a Vitrectomy and Epiretinal Membrane Peel.  Here the vitreous (a jelly like material filling the intraocular cavity) is removed.  The scar tissue is gently peeled using extremely fine forceps.

PROGNOSIS:

Surgery at the appropriate time can improve vision and reduce the symptoms of distortion.

Optimal vision will occur about 6 to 12 months after surgery.

A cataract can develop after this type of surgery but is treatable with modern surgical techniques with very good results.

Click here for Epiretinal Membrane fact sheet