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Unexplained vision loss following removal of epiretinal membrane
  1. R H Roe1,2,
  2. H R McDonald1,2,
  3. A D Fu1,2,
  4. J M Lahey3,
  5. R T Wendel4,
  6. J A Pearlman4,
  7. P M Monahan5,
  8. J M Jumper1,2,
  9. R N Johnson1,2,
  10. E Ai1,2,
  11. E T Cunningham1,2,6
  1. 1The San Francisco Retina Foundation, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2The Pacific Vision Foundation, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Ophthalmology, Kaiser-Permanante Medical Center, Santa Clara, California, USA
  4. 4Retinal Consultants, Sacramento, California, USA
  5. 5Retinal Diagnostic Center of Northern California, San Jose, California, USA
  6. 6Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Richard Roe, Retina-Vitreous Associates, 1127 Wilshire Blvd, #1620 Los Angeles, CA 90017, USA; roe.rick{at}


Purpose To report unexplained severe central vision loss accompanied by a dense central scotoma as an uncommon complication following epiretinal membrane removal.

Methods Retrospective, multicentred, case series.

Results Six patients underwent uncomplicated vitrectomy surgery between 2000 and 2007 at four separate retina practices for removal of an epiretinal membrane. Preoperative vision ranged from 20/60 to 20/100, with a median of 20/70. On the first day postoperatively, all patients noted decreased vision ranging from counting fingers to light perception and were found to have a dense central scotoma. Posterior segment examination revealed a white, oedematous macula in all affected eyes. Vision improved minimally during the follow-up period, which ranged from 2 months to 5 years. The final vision ranged from 20/200 to hand movements. No anatomic or physiologic cause for the decreased vision and central scotoma was identified.

Conclusions While uncommon, severe, permanent, central vision loss accompanied by a dense central scotoma can occur following epiretinal membrane removal and should be considered when assessing the risks and benefits of such surgery.

  • Unexplained visual loss
  • epiretinal membrane removal
  • vitrectomy
  • central scotoma
  • macula
  • treatment surgery

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.