Epiretinal membrane


Epiretinal membrane

What is it?

These are a class of membranes that are caused by the growth of scar tissue on the surface of the macula. The macula is a small area in the center of the retina which allows us to see fine details clearly. When this membrane shrinks, it distorts the retinal tissue, provoking the formation of folds or creases on the surface of the macula, altering their functionality.

The causes are various, although the most common is the posterior vitreous detachment. The vitreous gel, with the passaging of time, may separate from the back of the retina to stimulate the appearance of fibrous tissue which, upon contraction, will cause distortion. Other less common causes: intraocular inflammation, retinal detachment, or severe eye injuries.


Symptoms vary from mild to severe and may affect one or both eyes. They usually appear after age 50, being more common in people over 70. The loss of vision in central, blurred or distorted, making it difficult to read or perform near vision tasks. In severe cases it can present a central area without vision (scotoma), keeping the peripheral vision intact.

The diagnosis is simple, examining the retina with the slit lamp and assessing their degree of evolution by optical coherence tomography (OCT). With this test, the membrane can be appreciated in detail, and quantify the distortion it generates on the surface of the retina.


In early cases, surgery may not be necessary. OCT regular check-ups are recommended. When there is a progressive decrease in vision, or increase in the perceived distortion of objects (metamorphopsia), the membrane can be removed by surgery (vitrectomy). With the proper equipment, in the hands of a skilled surgeon, the membrane surface of the macula is separated, "peeling it" delicately. Once free of this tissue, the macula is flattened and the vision recovers slowly. This surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis.


In this case, rather than prevention, we will talk about early detection through ophthalmologic examinations with retina specialist relying on next generation technologies, that will determine the need for treatment and prognosis of this disease.



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