Epiretinal Membrane Peeling


Epiretinal membrane (ERM), also known as macular pucker and cellophane retinopathy, is a condition characterized by growth of a membrane across the macula, or central retina of the eye. This condition may be thought of as the growth of scar tissue across the macula, thus interfering with central vision. The ERM typically contracts, causing distortion of the central retina, thus producing distortion of vision. Most patients will note that either straight objects appear wavy and crooked and/or central vision is reduced, depending on the severity of the condition.

Epiretinal membranes may be associated with other conditions of the eye, however, the large majority are idiopathic, which means that the cause is unknown. Some of the disorders which are occasionally associated with ERM's include previous retinal detachments and surgery, inflammatory conditions (uveitis), retinal tears, and branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO) and central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO).

Your surgeon will help you to decide if an epiretinal membrane peeling procedure is appropriate for you. The decision, however, will depend largely on preoperative vision loss and distortion.

      Indications for Epiretinal Membrane Peeling

  • Presence of Epiretinal Membrane
  • Distortion of and/or substantial reduction in vision due to ERM

The Membrane Peeling Procedure

The ERM peeling procedure begins with a vitrectomy. The vitreo-retinal surgeon then uses an extremely fine forceps, under high magnification, to grasp and gently peel away the membrane from the retina. Diamond-dusted instruments may be used to assist in the removal of the membrane. This procedure may very well be the most delicate operation ever performed on the eye! A few tiny sutures are usually required to close the incisions in the eye. These generally will not
require removal at a later date.

After Your Epiretinal Membrane Peeling Procedure

After the ERM stripping procedure, vision should gradually improve. The best visual results, in fact, may not be obtained for up to 3 to 6 months. Due to potential permanent retinal damage as a result of the ERM, some patients' vision may not improve following surgery. However, about 80 to 90% of patients will experience visual improvement following this procedure. Potential complications of epiretinal membrane peeling include infection, bleeding, retinal detachment, and progression of cataract. Recurrence of the ERM may occur in about 10% of patients following the initial surgery.