Epiretinal Membranes vs. Macular Holes: Understanding the Difference

Posted on May 28, 2024 • by RCA • in RCA Featured Blog Posts

Originally published by The Retina Eye Center

Epiretinal membranes (a.k.a macular puckers) and macular holes are eye conditions that both impact the macula, a small area in the center of the retina. However, they differ from each other in many ways. Let’s discuss these two conditions, how they impact eyesight, and what treatment options are available.

What Are Epiretinal Membranes?

An epiretinal membrane, or macular pucker, refers to scar tissue that forms on the macula, causing blurred and distorted central vision. While there isn’t a lot known about what causes epiretinal membranes, some cases develop in response to an injury or association with other conditions like uveitis or diabetes.

A macular pucker can make things appear wavy or distorted, but it’s possible to have completely normal vision or mild symptoms. However, as the scar tissue spreads, your eyesight can worsen, making it important to address any changes in vision with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

How Macular Holes Impact Vision

While epiretinal membranes involve tissue forming on the macula, macular holes are holes or tears in the macula. This condition primarily affects central vision and tasks that require precision, like the ability to drive or read. Aging is the most common cause of macular holes. Over time, the vitreous can pull away from the retina, causing tension and tears in the macula.

Treatment Options for Macular Conditions

Generally, with both epiretinal membranes and macular holes, only monitoring is needed, as total blindness is unlikely. However, if either condition begins to impact your daily functioning, a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy may be the best option for treatment.

A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure in which a retina specialist removes some or all of the vitreous from the back of the eye. This procedure is minimally invasive, effective, and typically causes little pain or discomfort.

Protect Your Eyesight From Macular Conditions

Protecting your eyesight as you age is extremely important. If you notice any vision changes or suspect a macular condition, you should see an eye care professional immediately. At the Retina Eye Center, our expert team of retina specialists can effectively diagnose and treat epiretinal membranes and macular holes, preserving as much of your vision as possible. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

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