Treatment of epiretinal membranes
Most ERMs are observed to stay somewhat constant after the first stage of growth. In these cases, the ERM can simply be kept under observation as long as it does not present a significant obstruction to the patient’s visual ability. There have been select cases, however, where the ERM will automatically detach itself from the retina, releasing the traction and also resulting in an alleviation in visual symptoms. However, if an eye exam shows marked progression of size and growth of the ERM, and/or a degeneration in the visual ability or acuity of the patient, epiretinal membrane surgery may be recommended.
A surgical procedure known as vitrectomy surgery is used during epiretinal membrane surgery. With vitrectomy surgery, small incisions are made in the white of the eye. The vitreous gel inside the eye is first removed, then substituted with saline fluid. This then allows surface of the retina to be accessed with forceps, where the ERM can then be removed delicately. With the removal of the ERM, the traction and forces on the retinal surface are then removed, thereby allowing the macula to loosen and wrinkling is reduced or fully recovered from, in time.
The epiretinal membrane surgery in detail is executed via microscopic ‘keyhole’ surgery. Three tiny self-sealing incisions (each less than 0.5mm in size) are all that are needed to remove ERM. Visual outcomes are best when the membrane is removed early before it causes any damage to the retina.