Northeast Wisconsin Retina Associates



A common disorder of the macula is epiretinal membrane. An epiretinal membrane is a thin, transparent tissue layer that grows on the surface of the macula. The membrane may undergo shrinkage and contraction causing the tissue of the macula to become wrinkled or distorted. Eventually, this results in progressive blurring and/or distortion of central vision.

Epiretinal membrane is also known by a variety of synonymous terms including cellophane maculopathy (since the appearance may resemble a crinkled sheet of transparent cellophane on the surface of the macula), macular pucker (due to the wrinkling effect caused by the contraction of the membrane) and premacular/epimacular fibroplasia.


Epiretinal membrane

Epiretinal membrane formation most often occurs based on the aging process of the eye and usually develops following posterior vitreous detachment (see Flashes and Floaters). Epiretinal membrane can also be related to previous retinal tear formation or retinal detachment, inflammatory conditions of the eye, ocular injuries and vascular disorders of the retina.

Visual impairment from epiretinal membrane can vary from barely noticeable to severe. In many patients, symptoms may be mild and no intervention may be necessary. If visual loss is significant, treatment can be considered. The only effective treatment for epiretinal membrane is vitreous surgery with removal or “peeling” of the membrane from the macular surface (see also Vitreous Surgery). Following successful surgery, most patients will experience noticeable improveĀ­ment in vision with improved clarity and diminished distortion. Physical recovery following surgery is almost immediate, however recovery of vision is typically slow and gradual and occurs over several months. Although most patients undergoing vitreous surgery for epiretinal membrane enjoy significant improvement in vision, it is uncommon for recovery to be entirely back to normal.

Back to top