Epiretinal Membrane

DEFINITION: In front of the macular area enabling central vision, a shiny and transparent membrane-like tissue develops over time. This is called the epiretinal membrane or epimacular membrane.

Figure 1. Preoperative (left) and postoperative (middle) optical coherence tomography (OCT) images of a patient operated with the diagnosis of epiretinal membrane at our hospital. Macula OCT image of a healthy individual (right).

RISK FACTORS: In most epiretinal membrane cases, there are no accompanying eye diseases; it may emerge with  advanced age (idiopathic epiretinal membrane). In some cases, it may develop after retinal detachment, retinal vessel diseases, eye trauma, intraocular inflammations, retinal laser treatment, and vitreoretinal surgery (secondary epiretinal membrane).

FINDINGS: The most common finding is the decrease in visual sharpness. Other important findings are seeing objects differently to how they are, for instance faulted (metamorphopsia), bigger (macropsia), or smaller (micropsia).

Figure 2. The Amsler grid can help detect early signs of retinal disease and monitor changes in vision after diagnosis. A demonstration of how a healthy eye (left) and an eye with epiretinal membrane (right) will see Amsler grid.