Find information on medical topics, symptoms, drugs, procedures, news and more, written in everyday language.

* This is the Consumer Version. *

Epiretinal Membrane

(Macular Pucker; Cellophane Maculopathy; Premacular Fibrosis; Macular Wrinkle)

by Sunir J. Garg, MD, FACS

Epiretinal membrane (also called cellophane maculopathy, macular pucker, premacular fibrosis, or macular wrinkle) is formation of a thin membrane over the retina, which interferes with vision.

Epiretinal membrane is a thin membrane or layer of scar tissue that forms over the retina (the transparent, light-sensitive structure at the back of the eye) and then contracts, wrinkling the retina underneath. An epiretinal membrane typically occurs after age 50 and is most common among people older than 75.

Various conditions that can cause or contribute to wrinkling of the retina include the following:

  • Diabetic retinopathy

  • Uveitis

  • Detachment or tear of the retina

  • Injury to the eye

  • Near-sightedness

Most of the time, however, no clear cause can be identified.

Symptoms may include blurred vision or distorted vision (for example, straight lines may appear wavy). Many people say that it seems like they are looking through plastic wrap or cellophane. Doctors confirm the diagnosis by looking at the back of the eye with an ophthalmoscope. Color photography, fluorescein angiography, and optical coherence tomography (an imaging study) may also be helpful.

Most people need no treatment. If the blurred or distorted vision is bothersome, the vitreous and membrane can be removed surgically, using a procedure called a vitrectomy with membrane peel. This procedure can be done under local anesthesia in an operating room and usually takes about 30 minutes.