Macular Pucker

Macular Pucker (Epiretinal Membrane)

An epiretinal membrane, also known as a macular pucker or cellophane maculopathy, is a thin, transparent layer of scar tissue that forms on the surface of the macula – which is the central part of the retina responsible for sharp, detailed vision. The membrane can cause the macula to become wrinkled, swollen, or distorted, leading to blurry or distorted vision, and can also cause central vision loss.

Epiretinal membranes are usually associated with aging, but they can also be caused by other factors, such as eye surgery, retinal tears, diabetes, vein occlusions, or inflammation. In most cases, they develop gradually and do not cause any symptoms initially, but as they become thicker or more extensive, they can cause visual disturbances.

Macular Pucker Diagnosis

Diagnosis of macular pucker is performed during a close examination of your eyes. Your eye doctor will put drops in your eye to dilate (widen) your pupil, allowing them to examine the inside of your eye and take pictures with optical coherence tomography (OCT). This advanced machine scans the retina and macula for detailed images that can be studied for any potential problems.

When symptoms of macular pucker or epiretinal membrane are mild, your primary ophthalmologist may suggest changing up your eyewear or contacts to help improve vision. In more severe cases however, prescribed eye drops, medication, and surgery could provide additional relief.

Treatment for Macular Pucker

Treatment for an epiretinal membrane typically involves a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy, in which the vitreous gel inside the eye is removed and replaced with a fluid or a gas bubble. The gas bubble helps to push the membrane away from the macula and facilitate healing of the retina. In many cases, a membrane peel may also be performed during the surgery to remove the scar tissue from the surface of the macula.

Following surgery, vision may improve gradually over several weeks to months, but the degree of improvement may vary depending on the severity of the membrane and how long it has been present before treatment.

South Carolina Retina Institute is well recognized for their expertise in treating macular pucker. Your retina specialist will discuss any risks and how vitrectomy surgery may help you. Our skilled Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Dr. Nicolas Marchese, is board certified in the treatment of diseases and surgery of the vitreous and retina. Our knowledgeable SCRI staff is dedicated to keeping up with the latest medical breakthroughs and providing you with strategies that can increase your independence levels despite any conditions affecting your vision.