Laguna Hills: Macular Pucker or Epiretinal Membrane

Laguna Hills Macular Pucker

Laguna Hills Macular PuckerThe retina is the light-sensing layer of cells that lines the inner wall of the back of the eye.  The macula is the center of the retina that allows one to see fine detail.  If you think of your eye like a camera, the retina and macula are the film of the camera.  There are many conditions that can damage the macula.

An epiretinal membrane is a condition with many names: macular pucker, pre-retinal fibrosis, cellophane maculopathy, and surface wrinkle retinopathy, among others. All of these allude to an ailment that causes blurred and/or distorted central vision.

What causes an epiretinal membrane or macular pucker in Laguna Hills?

The vitreous gel separates from the retina in nearly everyone at some point in his or her life.  In some people, when the vitreous separates, it causes scar tissue to form over the macula.  This extra tissue will often thicken and contract, causing an irregular surface of the macula layer.

What are the symptoms of an epiretinal membrane or macular pucker in Laguna Hills?

Some patients are without symptoms, but as the macular pucker or epiretinal membrane thickens, patients will often describe wavy lines or distorted central vision.  Blurred vision and/or difficulty reading may also be a symptom.

Diagnosis

An ophthalmologist can examine your retina in order to diagnose an epiretinal membrane. Once the membrane is detected, there are two common photographic tests administered for assessing the extent of the damage to the underlying retina. These tests are fluorescein angiography (FA) and optical coherence tomography (OCT).

  • Fluorescein Angiography– in a in a fluorescein angiogram, patients are injected with sodium fluorescein dye through the veins in their hands or arms. Then the physician takes a series of photographs of the retina. The physician can use these photographs to evaluate the retinal layer, the layer beneath the retina and the retina’s blood vessels. The dye used in this process is not x-ray dye and no x-ray is taken. Rather, sodium fluorescein dye is a photographic dye that the patient will eventually eliminate from the body through urination. The dye may stain the patient’s skin yellow for up to 24 hours. The test is considered highly safe and effective. However, some patients may prove allergic to the dye. In this case, another kind of test, optical coherence tomography, may be administered.
  • Optical coherence tomography is a newer epiretinal membrane assessment in which light waves are bounced off the retina to obtain a cross section image. No dye is used in this exam. Rather, the light waves map the retina, acting similarly to sonar waves mapping images of the ocean floor.

Laguna Hills Epiretinal Membrane Treatment

The only way known to treat epiretinal membranes is to surgically remove them. Surgery is generally not necessary in cases where symptoms are mild. If both eyes are affected, strengthening one’s bifocals or using a magnifying glass may improve one’s near vision.

In more substantial cases, the membrane is removed in a procedure known as vitrectomy. This is generally an outpatient procedure in which local anesthesia is administered. Surgeons in this procedure use minute instruments to remove the vitreous humor from the eye’s central cavity and then remove the membrane that wrinkles the macula. After which, the macula should smooth out and symptoms will gradually be reduced. Most patients see an improvement in vision following this treatment. However, vision usually does not return to normal, and some visual distortion and reduced acuity often remain.

As with any surgery, there are risks.  In vitrectomy surgery, the risks include infection, bleeding, torn or detached retina, inflammation, or affects to the blood vessels in the retina.

Contact Us Today For Treatment of Laguna Hills Macular Pucker or Epiretinal Membrane

If you suspect you are suffering from visual distortion caused by epiretinal membranes, contact Retina Associates of Orange County. Our qualified retinal specialists can help restore your sight and/or prevent further vision loss.