Jan 13, 2011
Epiretinal Membrane (ERM) or Macular Pucker – can the distortion it causes become irreversible if surgery is postponed too long? This may be true in my case.
It is my understanding that a wrinkle or pucker can occur in the macula (central portion of the retina) as the vitreous fluid slowly begins to pull away from the retina as we age. This pucker often does not affect vision. But in some people it can interfere substantially with vision because of distortion, central blurriness and increased floaters.
I had put off cataract surgery for about a year because I had started a new job (bad decision). My cataract was in the center of vision -- some cataracts build up around the periphery of vision – so the pucker on the retina was not easily visible with the cataract in the way. Distorted vision from macular pucker (ERM) was not noticed by my cataract surgeon, but a second opinion a month after cataract surgery revealed that on an Amsler grid, all of the lines were wavy. In addition, had developed cystoid macular edema (CME). During the next 8 months after the cataract surgery, a retina specialist tried a Kenalog injection and a vitrectomy was mentioned – it was “elective”. I saw several doctors and some said the surgery was “dangerous and inadvisable” and I should consider “living with it”. Without a struggle, my vision was about 20/70 andwith a great deal of time spent guessing what letter each of the blurred shapes might represent, I was tested at 20/30 (a “bad” 20/30). I spent time online finding a retina surgeon with almost 10 years experience with performing vitrectomies. He said it would not solve all my problems. It was a big operation, a success in that the central blurriness disappeared as did the faded spots and huge floaters. However, it has been about 9 months since the surgery and the distortion has not improved. I probably waited 20 months to have the epiretinal membrane peeled and it may have been in place longer than that. I am happy to have the crisp vision back, though shapes are distorted. My vision has improved to 20/30 and I can see the letters without guessing, (a “good” 20/30).