To estimate the frequency of epiretinal membrane (ERM) in eyes with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) treated with Ex-Press shunt implant. Secondarily, we aimed to assess the role of concomitant cataract surgery and the impact of the ERM on central foveal thickness and macular volume.
In this prospective, consecutive, case-control study, we enrolled 54 patients affected by PAOG and scheduled for Ex-Press device implant with or without contemporary phacoemulsification. Contralateral eyes affected by POAG and receiving anti-glaucomatous eyedrops constituted the control group. Complete ophthalmologic evaluation and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) were performed before and 1, 3 and 6 months after surgery.
Twenty-six eyes received the Ex-Press implant alone, and 28 eyes underwent the combined procedure. Six months postoperatively, we observed 18 (33%) cases of ERM: 15 (28%) of cellophane macular reflex (CMR) and 3 (6%) of pre-macular fibrosis (PMF). In the control group, 9 (17%) eyes developed an ERM: 8 (15%) were CMR, and 1 (2%) was PMF. The frequency of ERM statistically differs between treated and contralateral eyes (P = 0.032, χ test). The ERM frequency did not statically differ between eyes subjected to simple or combined surgery (P = 0.846, χ test). Mean central foveal thickness and mean macular volume did not significantly differ between groups.
The Ex-Press glaucoma shunt may increase the risk of ERM onset regardless of the concomitant cataract surgery; however, most cases were cellophane macular reflex with limited functional and anatomical impact.