Epiretinal membrane, sometimes called a macular pucker or a wrinkled retina, refers to a thin layer of transparent scar tissue on the surface of the retina in the macula. It can be caused by other retinal conditions such as a detached or torn retina or occurs as a result of ocular inflammation. In many cases, the condition is idiopathic (no apparent cause). Epiretinal membranes develop very slowly and gradually affect vision by causing blurring or distortion. The condition typically affects only one eye so the patient may be unaware of it unless he/she closes the good eye. Epiretinal membranes cause distortion of the retinal surface, thickening of the retina, and sometime fluid under the retina. Many patients have only minimal symptoms despite obvious changes in the retina. An Amsler grid, or checkerboard test, is useful in detecting visual distortion. Ocular coherence tomography (OCT) can be very helpful following patients with epiretinal membrane.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for epiretinal membrane other than surgery. Many patients with minimal symptoms can be followed without surgery. Others may feel that their vision is bad enough that they are willing to have surgery. The surgery is usually successful in relieving distortion and improving vision but usually not back to perfect vision. One of the side effects of the surgery is progression cataract, especially in older individuals.