Prevalence and risk factors for epiretinal membranes in a multi-ethnic United States population

Ophthalmology. 2011 Apr;118(4):694-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2010.08.009. Epub 2010 Oct 29.


Purpose: To describe the prevalence of and risk factors for epiretinal membrane (ERM) in a multi-ethnic population and to evaluate possible racial or ethnic differences.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Participants: Participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), examined at the second visit of the MESA when retinal photography was performed.

Methods: Data on 5960 participants aged 45 to 84 years from MESA, including white, black, Hispanic, and Chinese persons from 6 United States communities, were analyzed. Epiretinal membrane was assessed from digital nonstereoscopic fundus photographs and was defined as cellophane macular reflex (CMR) without retinal folds or preretinal macular fibrosis (PMF) with retinal folds. Risk factors were assessed from standardized interviews, clinical examinations, and laboratory investigations.

Main outcome measures: Epiretinal membrane prevalence by ethnic or racial group and risk factors associated with ERM.

Results: The prevalence of any ERM was 28.9%, of which 25.1% were CMR cases and 3.8% were PMF cases. The prevalence of ERM was significantly higher in Chinese persons (39.0%), compared with Hispanic (29.3%), white (27.5%), or black (26.2%; P<0.001) persons. In multivariate models, increasing age (odds ratio [OR], 1.19; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-1.34, per year increase in age), diabetes (OR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.39-2.65), and hypercholesterolemia (OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.04-1.69) were significantly associated with CMR.

Conclusions: This study showed that ERM was significantly more common in Chinese persons compared with whites, blacks, and Hispanics. Risk factors for ERM were increasing age, presence of diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epiretinal Membrane / classification
  • Epiretinal Membrane / ethnology*
  • Epiretinal Membrane / etiology
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photography
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology