Eyesight is something we all too often take for granted. From the second we wake up to the second we go to sleep, our eyes never get a rest as they allow us to see the scenes of our lives play out in an array of moments.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) did a study in which they discovered that 94% of Americans over the age of 12 have good eyesight. The remaining 14 million, six percent, suffer from some form of visual impairment. Of course, this may not come as a shock when you consider the number of people you go past daily who are wearing glasses. There are eye problems, however, that you may not be aware of, for example, Epiretinal membrane or ERM.
What is ERM
ERM is a condition that causes a sheet of cells to develop above the surface of the center of the retina. This area is called the macula. If ERM gets worse and as it progresses, it can cause your vision to deplete. This is due to the cells shrinking and causing the retina to wrinkle underneath. This distorts the retinal tissue, which affects our vision. Some symptoms you may experience include difficulty to read, dry eye syndrome, which can cause problems on its own, straight lines appearing crooked, and a central loss of vision.
Our eyes work like a camera, and the retina in this metaphor would be the film. It is a very important part of our eye. It is very sensitive and sends information to the brain. The key part of the retina is the macula which we use for reading and recognizing complex shapes.
What causes ERM?
So now you know what ERM is, it’s good to know what causes it. ERM happens when the vitreous (jelly-like substance inside of the eye) pulls away from the retina. It is most common in over 50-year-olds, but the issue can happen after eye surgery or from inflammation inside of the eye.
Should you treat ERM?
If you think you have ERM, it is important to get a diagnosis. Once you know if you have ERM, you and your doctor will speak and decided whether surgery would be the best option for you. Surgery is usually only suggested if you are experiencing a strong distortion of central vision. If you are not experiencing vision problems, surgery may not be necessary.
How is ERM treated
ERM is treated through an operation called a vitrectomy, as, unfortunately, eye drops and glasses are not effective. During the vitrectomy, a doctor will make small cuts in your eye so that they can remove the vitreous from the inside. Next, the doctor will then grasp and peel away the epiretinal membrane from the retina.
After this operation is done, it is common for stitches to be sewn into the eye, although this is not always necessary. A pad or shield is then put over your eye so that it is protected and will stay there until the morning after surgery. If stitches are used, they won’t need to be taken out as they will just naturally dissolve in around 4 to 6 weeks.