What Causes an Epiretinal Membrane to Form?

An epiretinal membrane forms when the surface of the retina is damaged as a result of the vitreous shrinking, according to the National Eye Institute. The retina tries to repair the damage and develops scar tissue, or an epiretinal membrane. Eye injuries can also cause epiretinal membranes to form.

An epiretinal membrane is also called a macular pucker because if the scar tissue forms over the retina, it can cause the retina to pucker. In other cases, the epiretinal membrane can develop over the macula, negatively affecting the quality of the individual's vision. The side effects of epiretinal membranes include loss of vision, and difficulty seeing fine details or reading small print, asserts the National Eye Institute. However, some individuals may not experience vision loss at all.

Epiretinal membranes are diagnosed during eye examinations. The patient's eyes are dilated to allow the doctor to see the back of the eyes and examine them for abnormalities. Fluorescein might be injected into the patient to examine the retina if the patient has epiretinal membranes, states Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida. Mild cases of epiretinal membranes usually do not require treatment because they present fewer symptoms that interfere with daily life. Doctors treat severe cases of epiretinal membranes by removing the scar tissue to reduce or prevent puckering of the retina and restore some vision.