Epiretinal membranes (ERM), also called macular pucker and cellophane maculopathy, are a common finding in patients by eye care specialists. As you would expect from the name, these are membranes that grow on the surface of the retina. This scar tissue grows across the macula and the center of vision. The ERM then contracts, distorting the retina, and therefore distorting the vision as well. Many patients will notice that straight objects such as telephone poles, door jams, etc. develop a distorted view or they may just note total central distortion of the vision, depending on the severity of the macular pucker.
Epiretinal membranes can be associated with a variety of eye disorders but most commonly are not associated with anything (what we call idiopathic). Eye disorders that can be associated with epiretinal membranes include eye trauma, retinal tears, retinal detachment surgery, inflammations of the eye, blood vessel problems including
Surgery consists of making three small incisions in the eye. An infusion cannula (tube) is connected to one of the incisions that puts fluid into the eye and through the other two incisions instruments are used to first remove the vitreous jelly from the eye and then very small forceps, scissors and diamond dusted instruments are used to remove the membrane from the surface of the retina. Fortunately, epiretinal membrane surgery is very highly successful with improvement of vision in most patients. Vitrectomy and membrane removal does not immediately improve vision in some patients, however, most improve in the first 3-6 months after surgery and can improve for a year or more following surgery.