A better understanding of the morphology and topography of a membrane in the eye could lead to better surgical tools for treating some blinding conditions, according to a paper in Langmuir (DOI: 10.1021/la101797e). Removal of the internal limiting membrane, which separates the retina from the vitreous, with microforceps or roughened scrapers is a treatment for conditions such as macular holes. But removing the membrane without damaging the retina is difficult. Albena Ivanisevic of Purdue University and coworkers used an atomic force microscope to analyze internal limiting membranes removed from patients with diabetic retinopathy. They found heterogeneous surfaces composed of globular structures, aligned fibrous structures, and disordered fibrous structures. The fibrous structures might help distinguish between disease and healthy states, the researchers note. In addition, adhesion between the AFM tip and the membrane increases when the tip is chemically modified. Thus, improving the adhesion between the surface of surgical instruments and the membrane could increase treatment success, they suggest.