Purpose: To evaluate prospectively the ability to peel epiretinal membranes and to correlate the degree of membrane peeling to anatomic success rates.
Design: Consecutive, noncomparative, interventional case series.
Participants: One hundred ninety-three patients.
Methods: The extent of membrane peeling and other intraoperative features were correlated to endpoints.
Main outcome measures: Anatomic success (inducing hole closure), visual acuity of 20/50 or better, and visual improvement of two or more Snellen lines.
Results: One hundred ninety-three eyes were eligible for the study by virtue of having a minimum follow-up interval of 6 weeks. The overall anatomic success rate was 93% in these cases. There was a two-line or more improvement in 72%; 56% attained 20/50 or better visual acuity. The internal limiting membrane was peeled completely in 23%, partially in 43%, and not at all in 34%. The degree of internal limiting membrane peeling was not correlated with the duration of the hole or rate of two-line visual improvement, but was inversely correlated with the rate of anatomic success (P = 0.045). Final visual acuity was correlated with a better preoperative visual acuity, shorter preoperative duration of macular hole, and more complete internal limiting membrane peeling.
Conclusions: Peeling of the internal limiting membrane is not essential for anatomic or visual success in macular hole surgery, but it may be a means to standardize inducement of the proper degree of gliosis. Excessive, unsuccessful attempts at internal limiting membrane peeling may decrease visual success. Techniques delivering a more reproducible, complete, atraumatic peeling of the internal limiting membrane should be studied.