Oman Journal of Ophthalmology

: 2013  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 56--57

Spontaneous epiretinal membrane separation

Anton M Kolomeyer, Daniel M Schwartz 
 Department of Ophthalmology, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA

Correspondence Address:
Daniel M Schwartz
Department of Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Service, 10 Koret Way, Room K219, San Francisco, California 94143-0730

How to cite this article:
Kolomeyer AM, Schwartz DM. Spontaneous epiretinal membrane separation.Oman J Ophthalmol 2013;6:56-57

How to cite this URL:
Kolomeyer AM, Schwartz DM. Spontaneous epiretinal membrane separation. Oman J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2020 Jul 8 ];6:56-57
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Full Text


Idiopathic epiretinal membranes (ERM) occur mainly in patients above 50 years of age, and are bilateral in up to 20% of cases. [1] ERM undergoes spontaneous separation most commonly in young subjects, women, and myopes; it occurs in approximately 1-3% of cases overall, and generally results in visual improvement. [2],[3],[4],[5] Several retinal diseases and mechanisms resulting in spontaneous ERM separation have been described. [6] It has been noted to occur in patients with Toxoplasmic retinochoroiditis, Stargardt macular dystrophy, and Leber's multiple military aneurysms, and has been associated with trauma and laser treatment. [6],[7],[8],[9] Here, we present spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) images documenting sequential spontaneous ERM separation.

 Case Report

A 68-year-old woman presented with 1-2 months of decreasing vision in her right eye. Past ocular history included bilateral radial keratotomy 16 years prior. Visual acuity (VA) was 20/60 in the right eye and 20/30 in the left eye. Anterior segment evaluation and intraocular pressures were normal. Metamorphopsia was present on Amsler grid. Posterior vitreous detachments (PVD) were noted bilaterally. SD-OCT showed an ERM bilaterally [right eye shown in [Figure 1]a. We decided to observe the patient without surgery. Left eye VA and ERM remained stable throughout subsequent examinations. At 4 months, VA in the right eye was unchanged. SD-OCT showed spontaneous ERM separation temporal to the fovea where it remained attached [Figure 1]b. At 7 months, VA was 20/60 in the right eye. SD-OCT showed further separation of the ERM from the fovea [Figure 1]c. At 12 months, best-corrected VA was 20/40 in the right eye. SD-OCT showed a lamellar hole with continued separation of the ERM crossing the fovea and remaining attached nasal to the fovea [Figure 1]d.{Figure 1}


Surgical removal of ERM results in visual improvement in 75-85% of eyes. [10],[11] Conservative treatment of our patient obviated the need for surgery because the ERM spontaneously peeled across the fovea. This process may have been associated with PVD observed in our patient, and supports previous similar observations. [12],[13] Non-surgical approach has been previously shown in the literature to result in improved vision in select circumstances. [4],[8],[14] Vision improved from 20/60 to 20/40 in our patient.

While ERM are known to spontaneously peel, this is a rare event and should not influence decision for surgical intervention. Conversely, monitoring spontaneous ERM peel on SD-OCT may defer surgical intervention and indicate observation for further relief of traction on the fovea.


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