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The membrane on the macular: symptoms, causes, and treatments

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When a macular fold is present, there may be no symptoms. At other times, distortions in visual perception may occur. Read on and we’ll tell you more.

A membrane on the macula, in English macular pucker, is a formation of extra tissue in the center of the retina. It is not a very common condition. In some cases, it produces mild symptoms. But other times it can affect vision.

The cause is not always known, but it is generally associated with age-related degeneration. Most people do not need treatment if there is no difficulty in carrying out activities.

What is a membrane on the macula?

At the back of the eye is the retina. In the center of the retina is the macula, which consists of special cells that react to light.

However, there are various conditions that can affect this area of ​​the eye, reducing our ability to perceive images. These include a macular hole, macular edema, and age-related macular degeneration.

On the other hand, cells inside the eye may begin to grow. This causes the tissue to wrinkle, contract, or become dense, resulting in a kind of scarring or bulging.

This is called macular puckering or membrane on the macula. It is also known by other names:

Symptoms of membrane on the macula

Some people have no symptoms. In other cases, they are quite mild and do not cause significant vision loss.

But one can also experience a distorted perception, which makes it difficult to carry out daily activities. Among the most common symptoms of the macular membrane, we can mention the following:

  • Blurred central vision
  • Difficult to read the small print
  • It can be difficult to perceive details
  • Objects appear wavy (even straight lines)
  • Sometimes you can see a gray or cloudy, or even blank area (like a dead spot)

The causes of membrane on the macula

Most of the time, the cause is not known. Among those that have been identified are the following:

  • Aging: Over time, the vitreous in the eye can compress and separate from the retina. It can also stick together, causing scar tissue to form.
  • Injury or illness, such as diabetes.
  • Surgical procedures, such as retinal surgery or cataract surgery.
  • Other causes, such as retinal detachment or problems with the blood supply in the area.

There are also risk factors that increase the risk of membrane on the macula, such as eye inflammation and uveitis.

How do you make a diagnosis?

For the diagnosis, the ophthalmologist will put some drops to dilate the pupil. This allows you to see inside using a device called an ophthalmoscope.

If the doctor suspects a macular membrane, an additional optical coherence tomography (OCT) may be performed, which scans the back of the eye and provides detailed images of the retina and macular.

Treatment options for membranes on the macula

In most cases, there are no, or only mild, symptoms, which do not require any treatment unless it means that the person’s vision is affected. However, there are situations where the doctor may prescribe glasses. For a person who already uses optical correction, this may mean having to modify it.

Surgery is only recommended in certain cases when the symptoms are more serious or disabling. In this regard, there are two possibilities:

  • Vitrectomy: In this operation, part of the vitreous body and the scar tissue is removed. It is an outpatient procedure aimed at reducing or flattening the macula. It is recommended when the cause is related to basic surgical procedures.
  • Membranectomy: In this operation, the retina is removed. It can also be done on an outpatient basis. This is the usual procedure for unwanted consequences of cataract surgery or after uveitis.

Risks of operations

With surgery, it is possible that the vision can be improved in some cases, but it is usually not as good as before the membrane appeared. However, there are people who do not experience any improvement even after surgery.

Also, as with all surgeries, there are risks with vitrectomy and membranectomy . These include the following:

  • Cataract
  • Infections
  • Bleeding
  • Retinal detachment

Can you prevent getting a membrane on the yellow spot?

Given that the cause of this condition is not known in all cases, it is not always possible to prevent or even stop the macular membrane. However, it is necessary to take precautions in people with diabetes or who have suffered from retinal detachment. This also applies to people who have had cataract surgery.

At the same time, since age is one of the associated factors for this condition, it is important to be examined by an ophthalmologist regularly for eye examinations. This is the case if you suffer from the membrane on the macula to check that it does not get worse, and for early diagnosis.

It is easier to treat a newly formed membrane on the macula than one that has been there for a while. It is also possible that in some cases the problem may start in one eye and then also occur in the other eye.

A membrane on the macula may grow back after removal, but this is not common.

When to contact a doctor

Often we experience some strange, temporary phenomena in our vision, such as temporary blurring. If we go from a bright place to a dark place, it can cause us to see worse.

However, if you often have problems with blurred vision, distortions, and difficulty focusing on what is in front of your eyes, it may be best to contact an ophthalmologist.

Remember, in the event that a membrane is discovered on the macula, it need not be a cause for concern. Treatment is usually not necessary if the symptoms are mild. And whether this condition is present or not, you should always pay attention to your eyes, so as not to allow any other possible condition to develop.

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