Photo looking up a long straight road where the lines are slightly wavy and slightly blurry

What is macular pucker?

Also known as Epiretinal Membrane (ERM) or cellophane maculopathy, macular pucker is scar tissue that forms in an area of the central retina called the macula that is responsible for our central vision. The presence of the scar tissue causes the membrane to wrinkle, contract and thicken impacting our ability to see fine detail, drive and even read.

Age is typically the most common cause of this eye condition and similar to vitreous detachment occurs as a result of the vitreous shrinking and pulling away from the retina. Despite being a natural process there are occasions where the vitreous can stick to the retina as it detaches, causing scar tissue to form whilst the retina works to heal itself.

Symptoms associated with the presence of macular pucker

The most common symptom noticed with the onset of macular pucker is vision loss. Whilst this can vary in severity, those affected typically report having difficulty reading, focusing on road signs whilst driving, particularly in low light, and experiencing blurry or distorted vision.

Symptoms of macular pucker are similar to the presence of a macular hole because they both result from a shrinking vitreous that tugs on the retina as it detaches. It is important to visit an eye care professional to correctly diagnose.

Who’s at risk?

A macular pucker can be triggered by a variety of conditions. Most commonly it is related to vitreous detachment that is more prevalent in those over the age of 50. Patients with a previous retinal tear, hypertension and diabetic retinopathy (diabetes of the eye) can also be at risk. Trauma associated with eye surgery or as a result of an eye injury can also cause the presence of macular pucker.

How is macular pucker treated?

As discussed the symptoms associated with a macular pucker can be mild resulting in little to no vision distortion. If this is the case, no treatment is necessary. Where central vision is impacted a macular pucker should be treated with vitrectomy surgery because other options including eye drops or medications alone won’t clear up the associated scar tissue.

During vitrectomy surgery, performed by an ophthalmologist (an eye doctor) under local anaesthetic, the vitreous gel that pulls on the retina is removed, as is the scar tissue that causes the wrinkling. Following vitrectomy surgery medicated drops are needed to help protect the eye from infection and to help with healing. 

If you are concerned about presenting symptoms call Westside Eye Clinic on 07 3715 5555 to discuss your individual situation today.