A macular pucker is another term for an epiretinal membrane. This piece of scar tissue on the retina may cause your vision to be distorted or blurry. Surgery is the most complete treatment, but your provider may treat you with magnifiers or glasses.
A macular pucker is a wrinkling of your retina due to scar tissue. Other terms for this scar tissue are epiretinal membrane (ERM) or cellophane maculopathy. The retina is the part of your eye covered with special nerve cells that react to light.
These nerve cells are very close together in the middle of your retina where the lens of your eye focuses the images that you see. The macula is the small part of your retina where the light-sensing cells come together.
A macular pucker doesn’t always cause significant issues with your vision, but it can distort your vision in some cases.
Recent studies estimate that 18.8% to 34.1% of Americans have macular pucker. The risk increases with age. Fortunately, most of these individuals don’t develop poor vision.
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The main symptom of macular pucker is distorted central vision. Straight lines appear to be wavy. Another term for this type of distorted vision is metamorphopsia.
While it can affect both eyes, it’s more common for macular pucker to affect only one eye. If you do have it in both eyes, one eye will probably be worse.
In addition to wavy vision, you might find that you aren’t able to see as clearly as you once did, no matter how close you are to what you’re looking at. You may also see a double image, or the image from one eye may seem larger than the other. Importantly, eyeglasses can’t fix the poor vision caused by macular pucker.
No, macular pucker isn’t contagious. You can’t get it from anyone or spread it to anyone else.
In addition to getting older, you may be at a higher risk of macular pucker if you:
Macular pucker may lead to some vision loss. It isn’t likely to cause blindness.
Your eye care provider will do a thorough eye exam after asking you about your symptoms and taking a medical history. They’ll give you eye drops to dilate your eyes (make them open wide) so they can see your retina.
During your eye exam, your provider will use a light and magnifier to get a close look at your eyes. They may also use the following tests to diagnose macular pucker:
You may not need treatment for macular pucker. Your provider may consider just monitoring your condition. If you do need treatment, there are noninvasive and surgical options.
Your healthcare team will take every precaution to avoid complications, but there’s always a small risk during any surgery, including:
After a vitrectomy, you’ll probably have imperfect vision for a few days. Your eyes may be irritated and tender for a little while.
You’ll probably need to take two to four weeks off work or school.
You won’t be able to drive right away. It could even take up to 3 months to enjoy the full benefits of improved vision after surgery.
In some cases, where a cause is unknown, there’s no way of preventing it. Avoiding diabetes-related eye disease and eye trauma are some ways to help prevent it.
Most cases of macular pucker don’t need treatment. You’ll just need to have eye exams on the schedule your provider sets up for you to monitor your vision and eye health.
You may have some vision problems with macular pucker, but it’s not likely to cause blindness.
Ways to take care of yourself include:
If you have any changes in your eyesight, you should contact your healthcare provider. If you have sudden changes in vision or sudden eye pain, get immediate medical help by calling 911 or going to the emergency room.
No but their symptoms can be similar. Macular pucker and age-related macular degeneration are two different conditions, but they both affect the macula. These conditions don’t usually affect your peripheral vision.
No. A macular pucker isn’t the same as a macular hole. A macular hole is an actual hole, while a pucker is a wrinkle in the retinal tissue. A pucker can sometimes lead to macular hole. Vision symptoms are more severe with a macular hole, and surgery is usually necessary.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
When you first hear that you have a condition that can affect your vision, like macular pucker, you might be worried. Many cases of macular pucker don’t need treatment. Your provider will discuss your options with you and help you figure out the best way forward. It’s important to get regular eye examinations. Your eye care provider can tell you what kind of schedule to follow.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/06/2023.
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