An epiretinal membrane is an eye condition caused by the forming of fibrous tissue on the surface of the macular in the center of the retina. Because of the retina and macular’s pivotal role in central vision, this obstruction can make vision blurred or distorted. While an epiretinal membrane is not classified as a disease and can occur in the eyes of any healthy individual, it is commonly confused with macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is an incurable disease of the eye that is typically related to age and can cause total vision loss. Epiretinal membrane, on the other hand, is only mildly symptomatic and will not cause total blindness. Skilled board-certified retina specialist Dr. Shalesh Kaushal, located in Ocala, FL, can successfully diagnose epiretinal membrane during a thorough consultation at Comprehensive Retina Consultants, thus eliminating the confusion between the two eye conditions.
EPIRETINAL MEMBRANE CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS
A common symptom of an epiretinal membrane is blurred and distorted vision. Often, there is a decrease in central vision, which controls a patient’s ability to see fine detail, read fine print, and drive a motor vehicle. Sometimes the membrane is so small that no vision problems occur, or can be so severe that the growing membrane causes extremely poor vision.
There are a number of causes of epiretinal membranes, most relating to a single action which can cause a cellular change in the retina. These cellular changes can be the result of trauma to the eye, disease, a detached retina, and blood vessel abnormalities. The cellular change is triggered by the dislodging of the cells from the retina and their movement of vitreous gel. When cells and tissue move onto the macula, the central part of the retina, the cells multiply and eventually become a membrane.
EPIRETINAL MEMBRANE DIAGNOSIS
Using a lamp and dilation, as well as optical coherence tomography (OCT), Dr. Kaushal will closely examine the various structures of the eye to determine the cause of your blurred vision and to verify the possible presence of an epiretinal membrane. A skilled ophthalmologist, Dr. Kaushal will be able to diagnose an epiretinal membrane with ease during a comprehensive eye examination.
EPIRETINAL MEMBRANE TREATMENT AND PROGNOSIS
There are currently no nonsurgical options for the treatment of epiretinal membranes. For this reason, patients with mild symptoms will most likely not be treated for the condition. Patients suffering from severe epiretinal membranes with a great number of symptoms are ideal candidates for vitrectomy. During this surgery, Dr. Kaushal will make small incisions and, using specialized surgical instruments, will remove and replace the vitreous gel with saline solution. Next, the epiretinal membrane will be removed and a patch will be placed over the eye to expedite the healing process.
Following surgery, patients will see moderate vision improvement on a gradual basis, increasing over the months. The full extent of vision improvement will depend entirely on the severity of the surgery, their vision prior, and speed of their recovery.
TREAT EPIRETINAL MEMBRANE
Although epiretinal membranes are often mild, it is still important to have them diagnosed and noted for future reference. At Comprehensive Retina Consultants, patients can expect premier eye care and advanced surgical treatment if their epiretinal membranes are severe and require attention. For more information about this eye condition, or to set up a consultation with Dr. Kaushal, we invite you to contact our friendly staff at your earliest convenience.