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What is an epiretinal membrane on the eye?

Dr. George A. Williams, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

Epiretinal membrane is relatively common and can be caused by a variety of conditions. However, the majority of epiretinal membranes are idiopathic, meaning that there is no apparent cause. The retinal wrinkling associated with epiretinal membrane is due to contraction of the membrane on the surface of the retina. This contraction is a natural phenomenon which occurs in all forms of scar tissue.

Dr. Abdhish R. Bhavsar, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

Epiretinal membranes typically progress over years to months and can cause decreased vision and particularly distortion.They grow on the retina surface typically as people age yet they can occur in younger individuals on occasion and can occur after surgeries or other trauma. If an epiretinal membrane is very dense and severe, it can cause severe loss of central vision, but typically not total blindness. When epiretinal membranes cause decreased vision, pars plana vitrectomy and membrane dissection surgery is indicated to remove the epiretinal membrane. This typically leads to improvement in vision. Although, when the epiretinal membrane has caused substantial vision loss, then the vision gain after surgery is not as great. Thus it is typically better to do surgery earlier when the patient is symptomatic even with relatively less severe vision loss.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.