What is an ERM?
An epiretinal membrane is whereby a thin sheet of fibrocellular tissue develops on the inner surface of the retina.The retina is a thin, light-sensitive tissue that lines the inside of the back of our eyes. When we view an object, light is focused on the retina after passing through the cornea, pupil and lens. Thereafter the light image is focused on the retina by impulses that travel through the optic nerve to our brain. When an epiretinal membrane is present, it causes a disturbance in vision.
The condition develops as a result of changes that occur on a cellular level between the vitreous gel that fills the eye and the retina. The cells settle on the retina, begin to proliferate and grow to form the membrane. The membrane acts as a “film” which makes it more difficult to see through it.
Often an epiretinal membrane remains very mild and can have no effect on your vision. However, sometimes the membrane may become more prominent over time or can contract like a scar and thus create blurry vision in the affected eye.
Patients are often asymptomatic; however, these symptoms may occur:
- Blurred vision in the affected eye
- Double vision in the affected eye
An epiretinal membrane is treated through surgery, namely a vitrectomy. However, surgery is not required in all cases: it is unnecessary if the membrane is mild and it has very little or no effect on the vision.
The surgery is done under local anesthetics whereby the ophthalmologist makes small incisions on the white part of your eye and uses a microscope and specialized instruments to work within the eye. The vitreous gel of the eye is first removed and replaced with a specially designed solution, the ophthalmologist then “peels” off the membrane from the retina. After surgery, very small, absorbable sutures close the previously mentioned incisions. Newer techniques allow the ophthalmologist to perform the surgery whereby they make use of self-healing incisions which do not require sutures.