What is Vitreomacular Traction?

The middle of the eye is filled with a substance called vitreous. In the healthy, young eye, this clear, gel-like substance is firmly attached to the retina and the macula by millions of microscopic fibers. As the eye ages, or as a result of eye disease, the vitreous shrinks and pulls away from the retina. The vitreous, over time, separates completely from the retina. This is called a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) and is usually a normal part of aging. It happens to most people by age 70.

In some people with PVD, the vitreous doesn’t detach completely. Part of the vitreous remains stuck to the macula, at the center of the retina. The vitreous pulls and tugs on the macula, causing vitreomacular traction (VMT). This can damage the macula and cause vision loss if left untreated.

What causes vitreomacular traction?

VMT is usually caused by part of the vitreous remaining stuck to the macula during a posterior vitreous detachment.

In healthy eyes, VMT is not common. People with certain eye diseases may be at a higher risk for VMT, including those with:

  • high myopia (extreme nearsightedness)
  • age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (a breakdown of tissues in the back of the eye)
  • diabetic eye disease (disease that affects the blood vessels in the back of the eye)
  • retinal vein occlusion (a blockage of veins in the retina)