Epiretinal Membranes

An epiretinal membrane is a thin sheet of rubbery tissue that can develop on the surface of the macular area of the retina and affect your vision. It develops as a result of cell changes that occur in the back of your eye. An epiretinal membrane can develop in an eye with no history of previous problems.

Overview and Symptoms

Epiretinal membrane problems are seen most in people over 75. The cause is often associated with other eye problems, such as vitreous or retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, trauma to the eye, and other conditions.

Most epiretinal membrane cases can be diagnosed by your ophthalmologist during a routine eye exam.  An optical coherence tomography (OCT) machine is an important imaging method used to assess the severity of the epiretinal membrane. An OCT machine scans the back of your eye and pictures are taken of your eye. This technique provides very detailed pictures of the retina and macula so your ophthalmologist can check for complications.


Surgery is the only treatment option for epiretinal membrane.  However, surgery is not necessary if the condition is mild and having little or no effect on vision. If surgery is necessary, epiretinal membranes can be treated with vitrectomy surgery.

Vitrectomy surgery is performed to remove the clouded vitreous gel in the center of the eye and peel off the membrane. The gel is then replaced with a solution that is similar to the makeup of healthy, clear vitreous matter. The surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. 

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