Recently, researchers reported the prevalence of epiretinal membrane (ERM) in a Japanese cohort and found that ERM is “remarkably higher in older subjects.” The study notes that the aging rate of the 65+ age group in Japan (which was 27% in 2016) is the highest in the world, so this population offers an instructive look at ERM prevalence and visual impact.

The team drew a cohort from a health examination program of 5,042 eyes. Patients underwent fundus photography to detect prevalence of ERM, cellophane macular reflex (CMR) or preretinal macular fibrosis (PMF).

They detected ERMs in 275 eyes, CRM in 169 eyes and PMF in 106 eyes. Based on univariate analysis, the researchers determined that ERM eyes had significantly higher glaucoma prevalence and scores on the Scheie scale of hypertensive retinopathy. ERM subjects also tended to be older, have more frequent histories of and use more medication for hypertension and hyperlipidemia, have shorter body height, higher systolic blood pressure and thicker intimal medial thickness. Multivariate analysis revealed that older age was the only significant factor for ERM prevalence.

The researchers also calculated age-standardized prevalence of ERM as 2.4%, 6.7% and 13.3% for all ages, subjects older than 40 years and older than 65 years, respectively. They concluded that because ERM has a higher prevalence in older subjects, “ERM can be seen as an important cause of visual impairment in Japan and in areas of the world where individuals live to an advanced age.”

Shimizu H, Asaoka R, Omoto T, et al. Prevalence of epiretinal membrane among subjects in a health examination program in Japan. Life 2021;11:2:93.