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Membrane Peel (ILM, ELM)

An eye membrane peel, sometimes referred to as an ILM or ELM, is a surgical technique to correct a bulging, scarred or wrinkled macula in your eye. The macula enables your central vision, color recognition and seeing fine details. If it’s compromised, your vision suffers. A macular membrane peel clears away the scar tissue or other interference on your macula so you can see clearly again. Call the expert eye surgeons at Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York to determine if retinal membrane peel surgery will give you back clear vision.

What Is a Membrane Peel?

Membrane Peel

A membrane peel, also called an internal limiting membrane peel or ILM, refers to an advanced eye procedure to remove scar tissue from the macula. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for the clear, sharp, detailed vision required for reading, driving and seeing fine detail. The macula contains a high concentration of photoreceptor cells for light and color detection.

When scar tissue forms over your macula, it results in blurred and distorted central vision. If you develop gradual problems with your near vision, you may have myopia, which is a refractive error correctable through prescription lenses. It’s also possible you have macular pucker, which means your macula isn’t flat against the back of your eye, distorting your vision. This condition requires an eye membrane peel.

A membrane peel is a specialized eye procedure that may be part of a vitrectomy to repair macular pucker, macular holes, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy. Top ophthalmologists perform macular membrane peels at Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York (VRMNY). These eye doctors rely on membrane peel eye surgery if you need it, but they also offer many other surgical procedures and in-office procedures to care for your eyes.

What Is Macular Pucker, Exactly?

The macula must lie flat against the back of your eyeball to properly function. Macular pucker refers to any scar tissue or bulges that appear on this part of your eye. The scar tissue often develops because of an injury or a medical condition. The macular pucker pulls on the macula and forces it to wrinkle, distorting your vision in the process. Symptoms of macular pucker include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Problems seeing fine details
  • Problems reading fine print
  • Mildly distorted vision
  • Straight lines that appear wavy
  • A gray area in the middle of your vision
  • A blind spot
Macular Pucker
Macular Pucker

If you notice any of these signs, consult an experienced eye specialist to get an accurate diagnosis. The ophthalmologists at VRMNY carry out diagnostic imaging tests to determine the exact cause of your vision problems. If they identify macular pucker, they often recommend an epiretinal membrane peel surgery. The practice maintains state-of-the-art facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Westchester for this and other procedures, including laser surgeries.

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When Is Membrane Peel Eye Surgery Necessary?

As research continues on this surgical procedure, doctors find more eye conditions, diseases, injuries and complications that a macular membrane peel can address beyond macular pucker. Other eye problems that benefit from the surgery include:

  • Macular holes
  • Retinal detachment
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Macular traction maculopathy

Your eye doctor only recommends the membrane peeling procedure if this is the safest and most effective way to improve your vision. Before the procedure, your doctor explains the mechanics of your eye problem and the benefits of a membrane peel. By relying on the trained experts at VRMNY, you minimize any risks or complications, while improving the success rate of the procedure.

How Is the Macula Membrane Peel Performed?

The goal of a macular membrane peel is to remove the scar tissue that has encroached over your macula. The main steps in the treatment include:

  1. Your eye doctor uses eye drops to reduce any pain or discomfort.
  2. Removal of the vitreous body. The doctor makes small incisions in the white of your eye. Through these incisions, your ophthalmologist removes the fluid that fills in most of your eyeball to better access the retinal layer. This is the vitrectomy procedure.
  3. The membrane peel procedure. Using specialized micro-forceps, the retinal specialist carefully removes the epiretinal membrane that has caused your macular pucker.
  4. Retinal repair. To hold the retina in place or repair a retina tear, your eye doctor uses a small gas bubble. In time, your body replaces the gas bubble and any saline inserted into your eye with natural vitreous fluid.

The experienced team of eye doctors at VRMNY work together for the best treatment outcomes. These eye specialists are leaders in eye treatment and run one of the most respected eye treatment facilities in New York City.

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What Can I Expect During My Recovery from an Eye Membrane Peel?

After surgery, you may experience some swelling or discomfort in your eye. For an improved recovery experience after the surgery, follow your doctor’s guidelines that include:

  • Use the prescribed antibiotic or anti-inflammatory drops for your eye
  • Wear an eye patch after the surgery to protect your eye
  • Consult your eye doctor if you notice a sudden decrease in vision, increased redness or excessive swelling
  • Avoid air travel
  • Don’t drive yourself
  • Avoid lifting any heavy weights
  • Avoid other strenuous activities, including bending at the waist to keep blood pressure in your eye at a minimum
  • Don’t expose your eye to water
  • Don’t strain to read or use a computer or smartphone for more than a short duration

For four to six weeks following your retinal membrane peel surgery, you can expect some vision blurring. That’s normal. With continued recovery, your vision improves, and any post-operative complications disappear. Your eye doctor at VRMNY is available for consultations if you notice any symptoms out of the ordinary.

By leveraging state-of-the-art equipment and technologies, your ophthalmologist gives you the best eye care. With experience in medical research and development of eye treatment techniques, the internationally-known eye surgeons and retina specialists at VRMNY perform the most complex eye surgeries. Contact an eye doctor today for specialized eye treatment and positive results.

Updated on May 17, 2022 by Ophthalmologists & Retina Specialists of Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York

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