Epiretinal membrane: a treatable cause of visual disability in myotonic dystrophy type 1

Hannah M. Kersten*, Richard H. Roxburgh, Nicholas Child, Philip J. Polkinghorne, Chris Frampton, Helen V. Danesh-Meyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


A wide range of ocular abnormalities have been documented to occur in patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1. The objectives of this study were to investigate the macular and optic nerve morphology using optical coherence tomography in patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1. A total of 30 myotonic dystrophy type 1 patients and 28 controls were recruited for participation. All participants underwent a thorough ophthalmologic examination, including spectral-domain optical coherence tomography of the macula and retinal nerve fibre layer. Images were reviewed by a retinal specialist ophthalmologist, masked to the diagnosis of the participants. Average macular thickness was significantly greater in the myotonic dystrophy group compared to controls [327.3 μm vs. 308.5 μm (p < 0.001)]. Macular thickness was significantly greater (p < 0.005) in five of the nine macular regions. The increase in macular thickness was due to the increased prevalence of epiretinal membranes in the myotonic dystrophy patient group (p = 0.0002): 48.2 % of myotonic dystrophy patient eyes had evidence of epiretinal membrane, compared with 12.5 % of control eyes. Examination revealed that 56.7 % of myotonic dystrophy patients had an epiretinal membrane in at least one eye. Visual acuity was reduced due to the presence of epiretinal membrane in six patient eyes and none of the control eyes. The presence of an epiretinal membrane was significantly correlated with increasing age in the patient group. We report an increased prevalence of epiretinal membrane in the myotonic dystrophy type 1 group. This may be a previously under-recognised form of visual impairment in this group. Epiretinal membranes can be treated surgically. We suggest that, in addition to a comprehensive clinical examination, optical coherence tomography examination is implemented as part of an ophthalmological assessment for the myotonic dystrophy type 1 patient with reduced visual acuity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-44
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology
Early online date17 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • retina
  • eye
  • myotonic dystrophy type 1
  • optical coherence tomography
  • epiretinal membrane


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