Complications of surgery for epiretinal membranes

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 1998 Oct;236(10):739-46. doi: 10.1007/s004170050152.


Purpose: Surgery has been successful in removing epiretinal membranes (ERM) from the macula, allowing some improvement in vision in 80-90% of patients; however, complications are relatively frequent. We conducted a retrospective study to evaluate the rate of peri- and postoperative complications and their influence on functional outcome of eyes having been operated on for ERM.

Material and methods: Preoperative findings, intraoperative and postoperative complications as final results of 70 consecutive cases of idiopathic or secondary ERM operated on by the same retina surgeon were analyzed.

Results: In all cases the ERMs were successfully removed from the fovea. The mean visual acuity (VA) increased from 0.34 +/- 0.2 to 0.54 +/- 0.31 (P < 0.05) postoperatively. Idiopathic and secondary ERM both showed significant improvement after surgery. Complications included intraoperative hemorrhage and retinal tears and postoperative progressive nuclear sclerosis, retinal tears causing detachments, macular edema and retinal pigmentary epitheliopathy. Final VA was not significantly different from the mean after complications, apart from when retinal detachments involved the macular area.

Conclusions: Performing surgery for ERM is worthwhile in eyes with major decreased VA and in eyes with metamorphopsia but only moderately reduced vision. Postoperative complications are frequent but can usually be managed successfully. Of them, only retinal detachment has a negative effect on the final functional outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cataract / etiology
  • Epiretinal Membrane / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ocular Hypotension / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology