Epiretinal membrane

Sometimes a fine membrane (sometimes called cellophane) forms over the macula. The macula is the central area of the retina and is responsible for detailed vision, such as reading. If a membrane forms over the macula, as it contracts, it causes folds – just like with a loose carpet. These folds will cause distortion of vision and reduction in acuity. Most membranes occur in the later years; in many cases there is failure to identify a cause. Sometimes previous injury, surgery, laser or retinal tears may be responsible.


If the distortion is minor and the acuity is relatively good (6/9 or better), the situation will be observed. If the distortion worsens, along with the vision, surgery can be offered. This involves removal of the vitreous from the back of the eye followed by peeling of the membrane away from the macula.


This can be done by you, using an Amsler grid. To download and print go to:


Banner image: This condition is sometimes referred to as macular pucker.

© 2009 American Academy of Ophthalmology

The membrane can be seen on the left. A scan shows that there is traction on the macula with thickening and stretching of the retinal tissues.