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Purpose: To determine the prevalence of epiretinal membranes (ERMs) in Melbourne, Australia and its risk factors in this population. Methods: The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study is a prospective study investigating the role of diet and life style in the causation of common chronic diseases. Eighty-six percent of participants were of Northern European origin born in Australia or United Kingdom and 14% were migrants from Greece or Italy (Southern European origin). Nonmydriatic digital retinal photography was implemented at Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study follow-up. The ERMs were recorded as cellophane macular reflex without retinal folds or preretinal macular fibrosis (PMF) with retinal folds. Results: A total of 22,406 participants had retinal photography, 95% (n = 21,241) were eligible for ERM grading. The ERM prevalence were 8.9% (1,882); cellophane macular reflex, 4.9% (1,047); and preretinal macular fibrosis, 3.9% (835). After adjustment for age, sex, level of education, smoking status, level of cholesterol, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, waist measurement, blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, increasing age and Southern European ethnicity was significantly associated with ERMs. Overall, in Southern Europeans, ERMs odd ratio was 1.97 (95% confidence intervals, 1.67–2.31), P < 0.001; preretinal macular fibrosis was 1.82 (95% confidence intervals, 1.43–2.31), P < 0.001; and cellophane macular reflex was 1.93 (1.57–2.38), P < 0.001. Conclusion: In an older Australian population, the prevalence of ERMs was 8.9% and was almost two times higher in participants of Southern European origin than Northern European origin.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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