Diagnosis and treatment

What is an epiretinal membrane (ERM)?

An epiretinal membrane is a sheet of fibrocellular tissue that forms on the internal surface of the retina and sticks to it. This causes the retina that remains underneath to crease or pucker, altering its structure.

Symptoms of an epiretinal membrane

In the early stages, an epiretinal membrane is asymptomatic. However, they tend to progress and over time they lead to changes in vision, including a reduction of vision and clarity, as well as metamorphopsia (seeing straight lines as wavy lines).


As well as a clinical examination of the back of the eye, an optical coherence tomography (OCT) is also essential for diagnosis. This enables us to see all the layers of the retina in three dimensions and see how they are affected by the membrane.


You can opt for close observation if there are no symptoms.  Treatment for this condition is surgical with a vitrectomy and membrane peel. A cataract can be removed in the same surgical session if the patient so requires to ensure the best vision result possible.


At CLÍNICA RAHHAL, we have state-of-the-art technological equipment which, combined with our teamwork, ensures the best results.

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Fernando Alcañiz. 

“Besides his professionalism, you can see that Dr Rahhal enjoys his work and is happy doing it. I went to him for an initial consultation and have never thought about going to another clinic. I am truly delighted”.

Lourdes García. 

“I have been a patient for some time and I am delighted with them. The staff are attentive and very professional, and the facilities are excellent. Highly recommended!”

Esther Herranz.



At CLÍNICA RAHHAL, we don’t want you to have to break the bank to be able to see; we want to ensure our patients can afford our treatments.

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Select one of the following frequently-asked questions from our patients to show the answer. If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact us using the form below.

Why does ERM occur?

An epiretinal membrane can have multiple causes, although the most frequent is due to age. It can also occur in relation to intraocular inflammatory disorders such as diabetes or intermediate/posterior uveitis.

Is the solution always surgical?

Generally, yes. However, in very specific cases in which the ERM is due to an acute inflammatory disorder, it can be reduced with the proper early treatment.

Does it need to be operated on in every situation?

Even through the solution is usually surgery, not all patients are candidates for that as ERM in its initial stages with good visual acuity, i.e., patients who are asymptomatic, do not require treatment other than observation and monitoring by an ophthalmologist.

When should I have surgery?

Each case needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, looking at the needs and characteristics of each patient’s eye. As ERM tends to progress, we usually wait until it is symptomatic, i.e., until it causes vision loss or symptoms such as metamorphopsia (wavy lines) before opting for surgery. However, once symptoms appear, it is important not to delay surgery because otherwise the results will not be as satisfactory with irreparable damage to the retinal cells where it has already occurred.

Will I recover vision after surgery?

This will depend on the damage that the ERM has brought prior to the surgery, i.e., the length of time it has progressed. Generally speaking, if the ERM is very symptomatic and has progressed over a considerable length of time, it is less likely that patients will fully recover vision than if they are operated on at the early or intermediate stages. However, other characteristics of the patient’s eye will need to be taken into consideration, for example, cataracts, glaucoma and other intraocular disorders that may also be affecting the patient’s visual acuity.

Initial consultation

Leave your details here and we will get in touch to offer you an appointment with one of our ophthalmologists. We will send you an email confirming receipt along with the details of the appointment requested. We will then call you within a few working hours to confirm the appointment requested.