Epiretinal membrane (ERM), or macular pucker, occurs when an abnormal layer of tissue grows across the surface of the macula causing the retina to become distorted. This, in turn, can cause the vision to become distorted and blurry. People often report that straight lines become curved at first and then as it progresses, it can lead to a generalized blurriness in the central vision. Most often, these develop after a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) which usually happens after age 50. ERM is very common and fortunately, most are insignificant and don’t require treatment.
However, when they begin to affect vision and quality of life we have the option of surgically removing them. Surgery is done as an outpatient using small needle-like instruments first to remove the gel from the eye (vitrectomy) and then mechanically removing the membrane. Most patients experience a slow improvement in vision and a reduction in distortion.