Epiretinal membrane (macular pucker)

The macula is a tiny part of the retina at the back of the eye. It is only about 5mm across but is responsible for controlling central vision, including colour vision and detailed activities such as reading and writing.

An epiretinal membrane is a thin layer of scar tissue that can grow across the macula, and can distort or blur central vision. This condition is also known as a macular pucker, cellophane maculopathy or preretinal membrane.

An epiretinal membrane often occurs as part of the aging process, as the vitreous (the jelly inside the eye) shrinks, and pulls away from the retina. It most commonly occurs in people over the age of 50. Some cases of epiretinal membrane are caused by previous eye trauma, retinal detachment, diabetes or inflammation inside the eye.

Vision loss due to epiretinal membrane can vary from no loss to severe loss, although blindness is very uncommon. The condition usually affects one eye, although it can later develop in the other eye.

In many cases, the symptoms of an epiretinal membrane are mild. These may include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Straight lines appear wavy
  • A grey area in your central vision

Often, epiretinal membranes are found by chance on routine eye screening by a local optician. If you experience any of the symptoms above, you should see an optician for an initial eye assessment. You may then be referred to an ophthalmologist for a more detailed assessment.

Treatment for an epiretinal membrane is usually only needed if blurred and distorted vision symptoms are affecting your ability to carry out daily tasks. The only treatment option is a vitrectomy, which may be recommended once an ophthalmologist confirms the diagnosis of a progressive epiretinal membrane.

At Circle Health, we can arrange for you to see a leading consultant ophthalmologist who specialises in managing epiretinal membranes through a vitrectomy using state-of-the-art instruments. Your chosen consultant can advise you about the vitrectomy procedure for your condition.

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