What is a Macular Pucker / Epiretinal Membrane?
The macula normally lies against the back of the eye. As we age, scar tissue or membranes (like cellophane) can grow on the surface of the retina. Often times this membrane remains flat and causes no or minimal vision problems. In some cases, this scar tissue contracts and causes the retina to wrinkle. When this happens at the macula, it is known as a macular pucker or an epiretinal membrane.
Our board-certified retina specialists at Retina Consultants of Houston are experienced in diagnosing and treating macular puckers.
Dr. Wong: Epiretinal Membrane
Causes and Symptoms of Macular Pucker / Epiretinal Membrane
There are a number of eye conditions associated with a macular pucker:
Symptoms of a macular pucker can include:
- Blurry central vision
- Distorted or “wavy” vision
- Gray or blurred spot in central vision
- Difficulty reading or performing tasks that require detailed vision
Often a macular pucker can be diagnosed by your retina specialist during an eye exam. It may be further evaluated using special tests like fluorescein angiography (FA) and ocular coherence tomography (OCT).
Treatment and Prognosis
For mild symptoms, a macular pucker can be observed, and no treatment may be necessary. Keeping your eyeglass prescription updated can help maximize vision.
The treatment for significant visual loss caused by a macular pucker is a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy with membrane peeling. During a vitrectomy, the membrane is gently peeled from the surface of the macula using fine instruments. This outpatient procedure is performed in the operating room under a local anesthetic with sedation.
Vision usually improves gradually after surgery. Most of the improvement will take place in the first three to four months though it usually does not return all the way to normal. In most patients, visual distortion decreases significantly. In some cases, vision may not improve.