Retina Surgery

Epiretinal Membrane Peel

An epiretinal membrane peel is an advanced procedure used to remove scar tissue over the macula, the central part of the eye’s retina responsible for near, detailed vision.An epiretinal membrane peel is performed in conjunction with vitrectomy surgery.

First, a series of extremely small incisions are made to the sclera of the eye. This is so that the vitreous gel can be removed in order to allow the surgeon access to the retinal layer. Next, micro-forceps are used to delicately peel off the epiretinal membrane from the macula.Finally, a small gas bubble will be placed in the eye to help hold the retina correctly in place so that it can heal.

In the vast majority of epiretinal membrane peels, no sutures are required given the precision of the procedure and the instruments used. This results in minimal discomfort during the recovery period.

Recovery after an Epiretinal Membrane Peel

You can expect some discomfort and swelling after surgery. Your retinal specialist at Calgary Retina Consultants will prescribe you withany necessary medications you may require.

During the recovery period, you will be given a series of medicated anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops to administer to the affected eye, it is important to follow the directions of yourretinal surgeon with regards to duration and frequency of the drops. Typically, patients are required to use the prescribed eye drops during the post-operative period. The length of time recommended for using these drops differs between patients.

Immediately following surgery you will have an eye patch. Please do not remove this patch. During your post op appointment on the following day, a technician will remove this eye patch for you. However, you are strongly encouraged to wear an eye shield at bedtime for the first 2 weeks after surgery in order to protect your eye and assist in recovery.

After an epiretinal membrane peel, the gas bubble needs to be kept in the correct place until a seal forms around the tear or detachment in the retina. Some patients may need to keep their head and eye in the proper position for approximately 90% of the day for the first 1 to 3 weeks after the surgery. You cannot lie on your back or the bubble will move to the front of the eye, press against the lens, potentially creating more problems.

For the first 2 weeks after your retinal surgery, please take note of the following:

  • All air travel is strongly not recommended.
  • Driving any type of motorized vehicle.
  • Avoid activities involving lifting weight over 5-10 lbs.
  • Avoid activities involving bending at the waist (household chores, fitness/exercise, sports).
  • Avoid going into pools, hot tubs, lakes or bathtubs. You may shower keeping your eye covered to avoid getting any water into the eye.
  • Avoid reading or computer work. This also includes use of mobile devices such as iPhones, smart phones, and tablets.
  • You may watch television as this involves less eye movement and strain but remain at a distance of at least 6 feet or more.
  • You can expect some blurring of vision 4-6 weeks following surgery, and may experience an overall blurring for distance and reading. This should progressively improve.

Contact your physician right away if you notice any signs of complications after surgery, such as:

  • A sudden decrease in vision.
  • Increasing pain.
  • Increasing redness.
  • Excessive swelling around the eye.
  • Any light sensitivity or discharge from the eye (other than clear/watering).
  • Any new floaters, flashes of light, or changes in your field of vision.

If you have any additional questions about recovery following an epiretinal membrane peel, please contact your retinal surgeon or Calgary Retina Consultants directly.