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Epiretinal Membrane

Epiretinal membrane is a thin layer of fibrous tissue on the retinal surface that distorts and blurs central vision.

What is epiretinal membrane?

The retina is the thin layer of light sensitive cells that line the inner surface of the back of your eye like a film in a camera onto which images are focused.  The macula is the very important small central area of the retina 1.5mm across that is responsible for central vision and seeing fine details.

Sometimes a thin layer of fibrous ‘scar’ tissue develops over the surface of the macula, which thickens and puckers, resulting in distortion and blurred vision.

What are the symptoms of epiretinal membrane?

Symptoms are painless and typically happen gradually over time.  You may notice:

  • Blurring and distortion of central vision (wavy/crooked)
  • Wanting to close the affected ‘bad’ eye when using both eyes together

What causes epiretinal membrane?

Epiretinal membranes usually occur after the vitreous jelly within the cavity of the eye separates from the retina over time, usually after the age of 50.  Sometimes previous inflammation within the eye, previous intraocular surgery, laser treatment, diabetic eye disease or retinal vein occlusions may lead to the development of an epiretinal membrane later.

How is epiretinal membrane diagnosed?

After dilating your pupils with eyedrops in order to obtain a view of the back of your eye, an ophthalmologist will closely examine your retina with a slit-lamp microscope in clinic.

They will also perform an OCT (optical coherence tomography) scan, which takes a high-resolution 3-dimensional cross-sectional image of the retina to determine the extent of the epiretinal membrane.

How is epiretinal membrane treated?

If the symptoms are enough to be hampering your vision and quality of life then you may be offered elective surgical treatment of the epiretinal membrane.  The operation is a day-case procedure called a vitrectomy. A Consultant VitreoRetinal surgeon uses microscopic keyhole techniques to remove the vitreous gel within the eye and can be done with the patient awake or asleep.  The epiretinal membrane is then delicately peeled away from the retinal surface with a fine pair of micro-forceps.

Sometimes epiretinal membrane surgery is combined with cataract surgery at the same time and your ophthalmologist will be best placed to advise the optimal surgical option for your individual case.

If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.


This content has been checked and approved by

Mr Jason Ho  ›

Mr Jason Ho is a consultant ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at King Edward VII’s Hospital, with subspecialty interests in medical retina and vitreoretinal surgery.

Find your specialist in epiretinal membrane at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have epiretinal membrane and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading ophthalmic specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Mr Jason Ho  ›
Special interests include:
Cataract surgery (+ 18) more
Professor James Bainbridge  ›
Special interests include:
Gene therapy (+ 7) more
Mr Danny Mitry  ›
Special interests include:
Cataract (+ 6) more
Mr Saruban Pasu  ›
Special interests include:
Retinal laser (+ 3) more
Mrs Veronica Ferguson  ›
Special interests include:
Cataract surgery (+ 5) more
Mr Mahi Muqit  ›
Special interests include:
Cataract surgery (+ 15) more

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