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Epiretinal Membrane (Macular Pucker)

 

An epiretinal membrane, which is also called a macular pucker, is a disease of the retina.  The retina is a layer of light-sensing cells lining the back of your eye.  This condition damages a portion of the retina called the macula, which is located in the center of the retina and enables you to see fine details clearly.  You rely on your macula whenever you read, drive, or do other activities that require you to focus on fine details.  Some people with an epiretinal retinal membrane may lose the ability to perceive fine details both up close and at a distance.

 

Symptoms, which can be mild or severe and affect one or both eyes, may include:

• blurred detail vision;

• distorted or wavy vision;

• gray or cloudy area in central vision; and

• blind spot in central vision.

 

These symptoms are caused by a thin “scar tissue” or membrane that can grow on the surface of the macula.  When wrinkles or creases form on the macula due to this scar tissue, this is known as an epiretinal membrane or macular pucker.

 

Your eye doctor can detect an epiretinal membrane by examination.  If your symptoms are mild, no treatment may be necessary.  Updating your eyeglass prescription or bifocals may improve your vision sufficiently.  If you have more severe symptoms that interfere with your daily routine, your eye doctor may recommend vitrectomy surgery to peel and remove the abnormal scar tissue.  During this outpatient procedure, your eye doctor uses fine instruments to remove the wrinkled tissue.  Vision often improves.

 

Be sure to discuss your options with your eye doctor.  If surgery is recommended, you should be aware that as with any surgical procedure, rare complications can occur, including infection, bleeding, retinal detachment, recurrence of the epiretinal membrane, and earlier onset of cataract.

 

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