Epiretinal Membranes

Epiretinal membrane is a very thin, almost transparent layer made up of fibrous cellular material that forms a layer over the macula at the back of your eye. This makes it harder for the patients to see clearly. Epiretinal membrane (ERMs) mostly occurs in the people who are above the age of 50 years. Many of the people suffering from ERMs do not need treatment as the condition is not that severe.

Symptoms

ERMs are generally severe when they affect the central part of the retina responsible for seeing fine details like reading and driving. In the most severe case, the vision gets blurred and distorted. Straight lines as those from the doorways might appear a little wavy to those who are suffering from ERM.  For the person suffering from the disease, the vision loss starts unnoticeable and becomes increasingly severe.  A person having any of the below symptoms should see their eye specialist of a doctor immediately:

  • Decreased vision or loss of central vision.
  • Distorted or blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Wavy vision
  • Problems reading small prints

Causes and risk factors

 Eye conditions that put any person at risk for developing an ERM are:

  • Posterior vitreous detachment
  • Retinal tear or detachment
  • Injuries or traumas
  • Surgery like cataract can cause ERMs
  • Retinal Vascular disease. Diabetes retinopathy can affect people
  • ERM in one eye means higher likelihood of getting them in the other eye too

Diagnosis

Generally, the epiretinal membrane can be easily diagnosed during your routine vision checkup with the eye specialist. In many cases vision is not affected, most types of ERM do not change and cause their vision symptoms. But some kind of ERM gets worst with time and will cause blurred vision or some vision disturbance. The doctor will only suggest the treatment when there are vision symptoms in any person.

A diagnostic test called optical coherence tomography which used the light waves to scan and view the layers of the retina can help in the diagnosis of the ERMs.  An eye specialist can also ask for another test called fluorescein angiography. This test involves the use of dye to light up the area in the retina so that the problem can be detected.

Treatment

Not all the ERM requires treatment. If the condition is only mild and the disease has a very little effect on the vision of a person the treatment is regarded as unnecessary. In the severe cases, epiretinal membrane surgery is necessary to remove the membrane. The surgery for ERMs is called vitrectomy. During the process, the surgeon will make a tiny cut in the affected eye and will remove the fluid from the eye. Then gently peel the epiretinal membrane from the retina and replace the fluid back in the eye. Finally, the shield is placed so that the eye can be protected from infection.