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Epiretinal membrane

An epiretinal membrane is a benign growth of transparent scar tissue film over the macula, the centre of the light-sensitive part of the eye. They are quite common and usually develop as we age.

What are the

Many people may not notice any symptoms. Sometimes, if the scar tissue contracts, you may notice distorted or blurred vision.

Who needs epiretinal
membrane surgery?

Surgery may be considered when it becomes difficult to see and carry out your normal daily activities due to the distortion or blurring. This involves removing the transparent jelly substance that fills the back of your eye (vitreous humour) and peeling the membrane with tiny tweezers. This is known as vitrectomy and is a relatively straightforward procedure, with thousands carried out successfully every year.

What are the

Epiretinal membrane surgery is quite successful in improving the distorted vision. Additionally, the sharpness of the vision improves in a significant number of patients. Surgery is the only treatment available for this condition.

surgery explained

Your pre-operative appointment Before going ahead with your procedure, your consultant fully assesses your eye health. If you are having combined cataract and retinal surgery, we will carry out a biometry test to ensure your replacement lens is the correct one for you. Your consultant will explain the procedure in detail and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

What happens
during surgery?

Vitreoretinal surgery is a relatively straightforward procedure that normally takes between 30-40 minutes. Most vitreoretinal operations are performed under a local anaesthetic. This means you will be awake, but you will not be able to feel any pain. You may see a bright light and some movement, but you will not feel any discomfort. Your surgeon will talk you through everything they are doing.

This procedure is usually carried out on a day patient basis, so you’ll be home the same day. You will not be able to drive home and we recommend having someone available to look after you for about 24 hours after your procedure.

What happens
after surgery?

We will arrange all necessary follow-up appointments with your consultant to ensure your recovery is complete and your vision is the best it can be.

How do I get referred?

Your optician or GP will discuss the various treatment options available to you and where you can choose to have your treatment. You’ll be able to take the time to decide where you’d like to be treated, and your GP or optician will make the arrangements for your referral.

How to refer

Please follow your local protocol regarding referrals – we accept direct referrals by secure email, fax, OptoManager and post. Please call us on the number at the top of this page if you would like any further information about making a referral to Newmedica.

  • BMI >40, weight >160kg and unable to transfer independently
  • Uncontrolled hypertension – persistent diastolic >100mmHg
  • MI or CVA within 3 months of surgery MRSA positive
  • Active exposed skin infection Indwelling defibrillators
  • Poorly controlled diabetes – BS >20

For optometrists
Send a letter to the patient’s GP with GOS18 requesting an onward referral via ERS.

For GPs and Referral Centres
Send a referral form to Newmedica with GOS18 by post or secure fax 020 7924 6262 or email to:

Cataract and oculoplastic referrals will be assessed against local criteria.

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