Subfoveal pigment changes in patients with longstanding epiretinal membranes

Am J Ophthalmol. 2009 May;147(5):865-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2008.12.021. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


Purpose: To characterize subfoveal changes in patients with longstanding epiretinal membranes (ERM).

Design: Retrospective study.

Methods: Analysis of 123 eyes of 123 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for ERM at the Columbia University Medical Center by a single surgeon (S.C.). Eyes were split into 2 groups: those with a preoperative yellow pigmented foveal spot and those without. The latter group was considered the control group. The primary outcome measures were logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (logMAR) visual acuity at postoperative months 1 and 3 compared with baseline. Fundus photography, optical coherence tomography (OCT), and autofluorescence images were analyzed.

Results: We identified 9 eyes with a yellow pigmented spot. All of these eyes exhibited OCT evidence of outer retinal disorganization and hypoautofluorescence. The mean duration of symptoms prior to surgery in these patients was 53 months. The mean duration of symptoms in the control group was 10.7 months. Mean Snellen acuities of the control vs yellow pucker groups were 20/59.7 vs 20/83.5 (P = .041) at baseline; 20/43.3 vs 20/64.8 (P = .006) at postoperative month 1; and 20/34.2 vs 20/50.3 (P = .011) at postoperative month 3. The logMAR magnitude of visual improvement for the yellow pucker vs control groups was not statistically different at either months 1 or 3. Central macular thickness on OCT of patients with yellow pucker decreased from a mean 495 to 395 microns (P = .041).

Conclusions: A characteristic yellow macular spot associated with ERM appears to be a sign of chronicity. OCT demonstrates outer retinal disorganization. This feature may portend a worse postoperative visual prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Epiretinal Membrane / diagnosis*
  • Epiretinal Membrane / physiopathology
  • Epiretinal Membrane / surgery
  • Female
  • Fovea Centralis / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Vitrectomy