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Epiretinal Membrane

Alternatives names for an Epiretinal Membrane (ERM) include macular pucker, cellophane maculopathy, pre-retinal fibrosis, membrane or scar tissue on the retina. An ERM results in distorted and/or blurred vision.

What is Epiretinal Membrane?

An Epiretinal Membrane (ERM) is an area of scar tissue that forms on the surface of the retina. The part of the eye affected by the ERM is called the macula. This is located in the centre of the retina and is responsible for the sharpest vision. The macula has special photoreceptor cells providing our sharp central vision needed for seeing especially fine detail (reading and driving etc.). When an Epiretinal Membrane Disease of the Macula, may cause it to contract and pucker. This can result in the symptoms of distorted and/or blurred vision. A retinal specialist can perform an epiretinal membrane OCT scan, which takes a special photograph of the retina. This can confirm the presence of an ERM.

[British and Eire Association of Vitreoretinal Surgeons – Epiretinal Membrane, see]


In most cases the development of an Epiretinal Membrane Disease appears to be related to normal ageing changes inside the eye.

In some cases, it can be related to other conditions such as diabetes, blockage of a blood vessel, inflammation or following retinal surgery.

ERMs are related to Macular Degeneration, they do not generally affect the other eye.

ERMs are quite common and affect up to 8% of people in later years.

[British and Eire Association of Vitreoretinal Surgeons – Epiretinal Membrane, see]


Epiretinal membrane symptoms include distorted and/or blurred vision. Straight lines may become kinked or curved.

Your eye doctor can detect an ERM during an eye examination following the use of eye drops. These will make your pupils large for a couple of hours.

An epiretinal membrane OCT scan of the retina can be used confirm the presence of an ERM.

Your eye doctor will assess your symptoms, your vision and your OCT scans to help you decide whether to proceed with surgery.

[British and Eire Association of Vitreoretinal Surgeons – Epiretinal Membrane, see]


Your surgeon will only recommend treatment if  your ERM is affecting your vision.

Once established an ERM is unlikely to improve by itself.

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