What causes an epiretinal membrane?
An epiretinal membrane occurs in some eyes after the vitreous gel collapses and pulls away from the front surface of the retina, the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye. If the vitreous gel pulls off the outer layer of retinal cells, the resulting repair process can cause a membrane of scar tissue to form on the surface of the retina. Symptoms can include decreased vision and distortion.
What is the treatment for an epiretinal membrane?
There is no medical or laser treatment for epiretinal membrane. If the condition is severe enough, surgery to remove the vitreous gel, followed by removal of the membrane with delicate instruments can be considered. This is an outpatient surgery, done under local anesthesia.
How successful is the surgery?
In about 80% of the cases, distortion is decreased and vision improves by about 50%. If the patient’s own lens is present, this operation will likely cause clouding of the lens, a cataract, which will require another operation. Of course, with any operation, severe, rare complications, such as infection or hemorrhage, can permanently decrease vision.