There are no natural or nonsurgical treatment options for epiretinal membranes (ERMs). Surgery is the only effective treatment for ERMs, but it is only necessary for serious cases.

ERMs are layers of thin, fibrous tissue that develop on the inner surface of the retina. People may also refer to them as macular pucker. ERMs typically occur due to natural aging and most often develop in those over 75 years of age. They can develop in children, but this is rare.

They often have links to the formation of a posterior vitreous detachment. As a person ages, the clear gel that fills the eye, called vitreous, shrinks and pulls away from the retina.

In some cases, a membrane forms across the surface of a part of the retina and can cause wrinkles, or puckering.

The membranes can cause some mild symptoms but generally do not require treatment. In some cases, they may cause distorted vision, or loss of vision.

This article looks at whether it might be possible to treat ERMs naturally and natural ways to ease symptoms. It also looks at traditional treatments for the condition, outcomes, and questions to ask a doctor about treating ERMs.

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It is unlikely that a person can treat ERMs naturally. The National Eye Institute states that surgery is the only effective treatment for the condition.

According to the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), there are no eye drops, nutritional supplements, or medications that can treat ERMs.

After the initial growth of the membrane, ERMs are usually quite stable. If the ERM begins to progress or causes a person’s vision to worsen, a healthcare professional may recommend surgery.

Is treatment always necessary for epiretinal membrane?

Most people with ERMs do not require treatment, and doctors may recommend monitoring the condition.

In rare cases, the membrane will detach from the retina, after which a person’s vision will clear up.

Individuals can discuss with their doctor whether or not their symptoms warrant surgery.

ERMs usually affect one eye and can cause a person’s vision to become wavy or distorted. That said, some people get used to the changes in their vision.

The ASRS notes that most people will not require treatment unless ERMs are significantly affecting a person’s vision.

The following are surgical methods to treat ERMs.


A vitrectomy is one of two treatments for ERMs.

During this procedure, the surgeon will make small incisions in the eye wall to remove most of the vitreous from the eye with a suction tool.

The surgeon may also use a freeze attachment or laser to repair the retina. Alternatively, they may inject a bubble of air or gas into the eye to hold the retina in place.

To prevent pain, the surgeon will administer numbing eye drops or shots to the affected area. They may also recommend using general anesthesia. Alternatively, they may deliver anesthesia via an injection behind the eye. This is called retrobulbar anesthesia.

Benefits of vitrectomy include:

  • minimal to no pain
  • complications being rare
  • a high success rate

Risks and potential side effects include:

They may also perform a membrane peel alongside the vitrectomy. This is when the doctor removes the membrane from the retina.

The outcome of surgery for epiretinal membrane is positive, with a success rate of over 90%. Vision generally improves after surgery, and side effects are rare.

A person may experience some bruising and swelling after surgery, but these issues usually resolve quickly and without complication.

An individual may experience a feeling of having something in the eye after surgery, but people do not often experience pain. Doctors usually prescribe medicated eye drops to help the eye heal.

For general eye health, a person may benefit from consuming various natural products and plants. These include foods rich in polyphenols and carotenoids such as beta-carotene.

It is important to remember that although these foods may promote overall health and good eye health, there is no evidence suggesting they can prevent, minimize, or improve symptoms of epiretinal membrane.

ERMs typically occur as part of the natural process of aging. These thin membranes that develop across the inner surface of the retina do not typically cause symptoms. However, they may cause some vision distortion or vision loss.

People often do not require treatment for the condition. In cases where treatment is necessary, surgery is the only effective therapy. There is no evidence that natural remedies or any other treatments have a positive effect on the epiretinal membrane.