What is an epiretinal membrane?
An epiretinal membrane is a retinal condition where a sheet of scar tissue develops across the central part of the retina, an area called the macula.
An epiretinal membrane can affect a person’s central vision. Patients experience distorted and blurred vision, as well as reduction in the level of sight, which can affect reading or recognizing faces.
This condition will not cause total blindness if left untreated. However, if vision is severely affected, it is important to seek medical attention from an eye specialist.
What causes an epiretinal membrane?
An epiretinal membrane is most common in individuals aged 50 years old and above. In most cases, there is no underlying cause for this condition. It is thought that most epiretinal membranes occur because the vitreous gel in the eyeball pulls away from the retina, a common age-related change in the eye.
An epiretinal membrane may be associated with other eye conditions such as:
- Retinal tears or holes
- Retinal vascular diseases e.g. diabetic retinopathy
- Inflammation within the eye
- Prior eye surgeries e.g. laser or cryotherapy treatment and retinal detachment surgery
- Prior eye injuries
Read the Singapore Epidemiology of Eye Disease Study on the prevalence and risk factors for an epiretinal membrane.
Can an epiretinal membrane be treated?
The only treatment method for an epiretinal membrane is its removal by way of a surgical procedure known as a vitrectomy.
Early epiretinal membranes may not necessarily need treatment if the impact on vision and extent of visual distortion is mild. These membranes may progress with time, however, eventually causing a problem with vision. Patients with such membranes may consider treatment.
Should I have surgery for my epiretinal membrane?
If your ability to perform daily tasks is affected, the option of surgery should be considered. Such daily tasks include reading and descending stairs, which can be particularly difficult, since these activities require good vision in both eyes.
Your doctor will also be able to discuss the potential benefits of vitrectomy surgery in improving your eye condition, and weigh these in relation to the surgical risks.
An epiretinal membrane can be diagnosed during a routine vision exam. Getting an eye examination at least once in two years is the best way to ensure that your eyes are healthy and that no new eye conditions are developing.
Are you experiencing blurry vision or visual distortion? Get in touch with Dr Errol Chan, our retinal specialist, to have your concerns addressed.
Request an Appointment with a Retina Specialist
MBBS, MMed(Ophth), MRCSEd,
FRCSEd, FRCOphth, FRCS(Glasg), FAMS, FRCS(Canada)
Subspecialty: Cataract surgery, general ophthalmology, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, vitreoretinal surgery, uveitis