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Macular Pucker or Epiretinal Membrane (ERM)

Related conditions: Pseudohole, lamellar hole, full thickness macular hole


The macula is the portion of the retina responsible for central vision. Occasionally, scar tissue grows on the surface of the retina due to conditions that are not controllable or preventable and causes wrinkling and swelling. This is known as a macular pucker or epiretinal membrane (ERM). These changes can lead to distortion of the central vision.

Patients with a macular pucker often complain that the affected eye sees bent or crooked lines. Sometimes, vision is blurry compared to the normal eye. In our office, we can evaluate your retina using an ocular coherence tomography (OCT) scan. OCT scans (diagram normal and ERM) help reveal the significance of the problem.

If you have a visually significant ERM, it can be removed with pars plana vitrectomy, a surgical procedure, by your retina specialist in an operating room.

Occasionally, an ERM is incomplete and creates the appearance of a macular hole. This is known as a pseudohole and can also be repaired with surgery, if it is visually significant.

Most common symptoms

  • Distortion of the central vision (i.e., wavy/crooked lines)
  • Blurry vision of gradual onset

Potential complications

  • Permanent damage to central vision

What to do if you develop these symptoms

  • Schedule an evaluation with a retinal specialist to determine whether you have an epiretinal membrane and may be a candidate for pars plana vitrectomy surgery.