Epiretinal Membrane Surgery

An epiretinal membrane is a very thin layer of fibrous tissue that can form on the surface of your retina (the focusing surface at the back of your eye). It acts like a film over your macula (the sharp focusing area of the retina) through which it is harder for you to see. In severe cases, the epiretinal membrane may contract like scar tissue, ‘puckering’ the retina and distorting your vision even further.


Not all epiretinal membranes require treatment, and if your vision is only mildly affected, surgery may not be the right option.

When surgical procedure is the best option the procedure involved is called a vitrectomy .

Procedure time

It’s a relatively quick procedure that should take no more than an hour. In most cases you’ll be able to go home straight after surgery, and resume non-strenuous activities the day after.

Typical results

Most patients have better vision after epiretinal membrane surgery, and regaining perfect vision isn’t unusual, but it does not always go back to completely normal.. It can take three to 12 months for your vision to improve fully though. How much and how soon your vision improves after surgery depends on a number of things, like your age and how far the epiretinal membrane has advanced.

How does epiretinal membrane surgery work?

Using highly specialised instruments, your surgeon will remove the vitreous gel from your eye, and replace it with a special saline solution.

Your surgeon will restore your normal vision by carefully detaching the epiretinal membrane from the surface of your maculaa,.

What to expect from the procedure


Before your surgery, you’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb your eye so you don’t feel any pain. 

Your surgeon will use the latest ‘no-stitch’ surgical techniques to make tiny incisions in the white of your eye. This type of surgery means your eye will heal faster, and you should feel virtually no irritation after surgery.

Your eye may also be treated with steroids or air, and laser or freezing treatments, depending on the exact situation.


After surgery, you should be able to go home almost straight away, and you can usually resume normal, non-strenuous activities the day after. You’ll need to wear a patch on your eye until the following morning, and you’ll be given eye drops and antibiotics to use for up to four weeks after surgery.

You can get the latest ‘no-stitch’ surgery for epiretinal membranes at Eye Institute, and enjoy clearer vision with a faster recovery.

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Call us on 0800 99 2020

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