The epidemiology of vitreoretinal interface abnormalities as detected by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography: the beaver dam eye study

Ophthalmology. 2015 Apr;122(4):787-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2014.10.014. Epub 2014 Dec 31.


Purpose: To describe the prevalence and interrelationships of epiretinal membranes (ERMs), vitreomacular traction (VMT), macular cysts, paravascular cysts (PVCs), lamellar macular holes (LMHs), full-thickness macular holes (FTMHs), and visual impairment in a population-based study of older adults.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Participants: There were 1913 participants aged 63 to 102 years at the 20-year Beaver Dam Eye Study follow-up examination in 2008-2010, of whom 1540 (2980 eyes) had gradable spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD OCT) scans of the macula in at least 1 eye.

Methods: The presence of ERMs and other retinal lesions was determined by standardized grading of macular SD OCT scans and photographs of 3 standard fields.

Main outcome measures: Epiretinal membranes, VMT, macular cysts, PVCs, LMHs, FTMHs, and visual impairment.

Results: By using SD OCT, the prevalence of ERMs (34.1%), VMT (1.6%), macular cysts (5.6%), PVCs (20.0%), LMHs (3.6%), and FTMHs (0.4%) was estimated. The prevalence of macular cysts (P < 0.001), ERMs (P < 0.001), and VMT (P = 0.005) increased with age; the prevalence of PVCs (P = 0.05) decreased with age; and the prevalence of LMHs was not associated with age (P = 0.70). The prevalence of macular cysts, LMHs, and ERMs was higher in eyes with a history of cataract surgery. Macular cysts and ERMs were more common in eyes with retinal diseases, such as proliferative diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, and retinal detachment, than in eyes without these conditions. Macular cysts, ERMs, and FTMHs were associated with visual impairment. While adjusting for age and sex, macular cysts (odds ratio [OR], 3.96; P < 0.0001), PVCs (OR, 1.45, P = 0.007), LMHs (OR, 10.62; P < 0.001), VMT (OR, 2.72, P = 0.01), and visual impairment (OR, 3.23; P < 0.001) were more frequent in eyes with ERMs compared with eyes without ERMs.

Conclusions: Epiretinal membranes are associated with macular cysts, PVCs, LMHs, VMT, and visual impairment. Further follow-up will allow better understanding of the natural history of ERMs and VMT and their relationships to the development of macular cysts and LMHs in the aging population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epiretinal Membrane / diagnosis
  • Epiretinal Membrane / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macular Edema / diagnosis
  • Macular Edema / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photography
  • Prevalence
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Retinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Retinal Perforations / diagnosis
  • Retinal Perforations / epidemiology*
  • Tissue Adhesions
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Visually Impaired Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Vitreous Detachment / diagnosis
  • Vitreous Detachment / epidemiology*
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology