Background: Idiopathic epiretinal membrane (iERM) is a fibrocellular membrane that proliferates on the inner surface of the retina at the macular area. Membrane contraction is an important sight-threatening event and is due to fibrotic remodeling.
Methods: Analysis of the current literature regarding the epidemiology, clinical features, and pathogenesis of iERM and fibrotic tissue contraction.
Results: Epidemiologic studies report a relationship between iERM prevalence, increasing age, and posterior vitreous detachment. Clinically, iERM progresses through different stages characterized by an increased thickness and wrinkling of the membrane. Pathophysiologically, iERM formation is a fibrotic process in which myofibroblast formation and the deposition of newly formed collagens play key roles. Anomalous posterior vitreous detachment may be a key event initiating the formation of iERM. The age-related accumulation of advanced glycation end products may contribute to anomalous posterior vitreous detachment formation and may also influence the mechanical properties of the iERM.
Conclusion: Remodeling of the extracellular matrix at the vitreoretinal interface by aging and fibrotic changes, plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of iERM. A better understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying this process may eventually lead to the development of effective and nonsurgical approaches to treat and prevent vitreoretinal fibrotic diseases.