We all know that our skin wrinkles as we age. But did you know that membrane inside our eyes may also wrinkle? Yes. It does happen due to age and other factors. This blog is a comprehensive guide on wrinkle in the retina, its causes, symptoms and treatment options.
What is wrinkling of the retina?
Wrinkling of the retina, or macular pucker, or epiretinal membrane, is a rare ailment in which tiny wrinkles form on the eye’s macula. The macula is located precisely at the centre of the retina. Its controls central vision and helps us to see finer details when reading, driving, and other activities. However, for it to work correctly, it must rest flat on the back of the eye. It affects a person’s central vision if it begins to wrinkle.
How does wrinkling of the retina occur?
Although the underlying cause of a wrinkled retina is unknown, ageing is likely to be a significant factor. The vitreous, a substance that resides inside the eye, decreases and begins to pull away from the retina as you age. There usually isn’t a problem if the vitreous successfully separates. But, if it sticks to the retina, a membrane may develop on its surface, pulling the macula and eventually causing it to wrinkle. This membrane can also form as an outcome of eye surgery or eye inflammation.
How does a wrinkled retina feel?
A retina doesn’t wrinkle immediately. The symptoms may appear gradually. Usually, while driving or reading, you’ll notice blurred vision or specific changes in the central vision. Some words or letters may appear missing or jammed together, while otherwise, straight lines may appear to be wavy. One or both eyes may be affected, even though one eye typically has more symptoms, and the degree of the symptoms varies on how much the wrinkling has advanced.
How is a wrinkled retina diagnosed?
The diagnosis may only require a dilated eye exam to identify this issue. The doctor may use eye drops to dilate the pupils to see the retina.
The healthcare provider may also use a specialised device to perform an optical coherence tomography if they think you may have a macular pucker. With light waves, the doctor may examine your retina and macula in great detail after scanning the back of your eye. You might require a ride home after these assessments because your vision may remain foggy for a short while.
What are the treatment options available for a wrinkled retina?
A healthcare provider may not prescribe treatments for mild cases of the wrinkled retina. They may ask you to visit them regularly to monitor the changes. A pair of glasses may be prescribed to improve the vision occasionally. Sometimes that also may not be needed since the eye adjusts the vision naturally.
Surgery can possibly lessen visual distortion in more severe cases where daily tasks have become challenging. This eliminates the membrane on the macula and helps the retina look smoother.
During the surgery, you’ll receive local anaesthesia, so you won’t likely experience any discomfort. A process called vitrectomy is first performed. The healthcare provider makes tiny keyhole incisions and removes the vitreous gel using suction equipment before replacing it with fluid. After which a membranectomy is performed. A membranectomy or membrane removal, is performed on the retinal surface. The physician will examine the retina to look for any symptoms of weakening or injury, and they may be frozen or lasered to lessen the possibility of the retina detaching. After examining, the doctor places stitches on the eye’s surface that gradually dissolve.
Surgery may enhance eyesight, but it frequently does not restore it to how it was before the retinal wrinkling.
Like any other surgery, there may be complications involved in this eye surgery, such as haemorrhage, inflammation, macular pucker recurrence, infection, retinal detachment, and bruising.
Who is at more risk of getting a wrinkled retina?
Retinal wrinkles are more likely to develop in older adults. A wrinkled retina can also be brought on by factors such as eye damage, eye surgery, inflammation of the retina, retinal or vitreous detachment or tear in the retina.
How long does it take to recover from a wrinkled retina?
A pad or a shield will be put over your eyes to protect them after the eye operation. This may be removed the day following the surgery. Several weeks post-surgery, you will be given eye drops to help reduce inflammation and prevent infection. You will also be instructed on when and how to administer them.
Sometimes the healthcare provider may ask you to refrain from activities that may be damaging for the eye, like driving, lifting weights, swimming, and flying on a plane. The stitches will naturally disappear within 4 to 6 weeks, and while the stitches are in place, you may experience a gritty sensation inside your eye. A full recovery can take several months. Consult a doctor or other healthcare provider as soon as possible if you have persistent pain or other side effects that worry you.
What is the prognosis for someone with a wrinkled retina?
If you are affected by minor macular pucker, your eye may become accustomed to the changes over time. The best method to manage your symptoms is to continue having routine eye exams because they may worsen over time. However, surgery may be your best option if your symptoms affect your everyday life and vision distortion is present,
Without surgery, you risk suffering from significant vision loss or developing a hole in the macula. Complete blindness may not occur since only the retina’s central portion is affected.
Are there preventive methods for a wrinkled retina?
There is no method to prevent wrinkled retinas from developing because they frequently do so with ageing or due to causes that are still unrecognised. A yearly eye checkup will help quickly identify and treat any eye issues.
Although macular pucker is a rare disorder, it can significantly alter vision but not result in total blindness. Sometimes it may not even need treatment. However, if your vision makes it difficult for you to perform daily duties, get an eye exam as soon as possible to determine the best course of action.