Testing for VMA: What to Expect

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on June 21, 2021

If you have symptoms of vitreomacular adhesion (VMA), your doctor can do tests to figure out what’s going on with your eyes. Both your vision and your eye itself can be affected.

These tests will look for changes in your vision that VMA could cause. They’ll also see if there’s damage to your retina and macula at the back of your eye.

Visual acuity test: This will happen first. It’s the standard eye chart with letters that get smaller as you go down the rows. You’ll be asked to read the smallest line of letters you can see with one eye, then the other. This will tell your doctor how much vision you’ve lost since your last eye exam.

Amsler grid: This examines your central vision. You’ll be asked to look at a dot in the middle of a grid. If you have blurred or distorted central vision, the grid will appear fuzzy or misshapen.

If it does, that means there’s a problem with your macula, a tiny portion of the retina that picks up details. Vitreomacular adhesion can cause swelling or a change in the shape of your macula. All of these can affect your vision.

Dilated eye exam: Drops will be put on your eye to enlarge your pupil. That’ll give your doctor a look at your retina, macula, and optic nerve at the back of your eye. It’s a good way to find things like a macula hole or detached retina. VMA can cause both of those.

This painless procedure also shows problems with blood vessels, like swelling or leaking.

Because your pupils are dilated, your vision will be blurry for several hours afterward. You may need someone to drive you home from your appointment. If you wear contact lenses, you’ll need to remove them before the test.

Bring sunglasses with you. Your eyes will be sensitive to light when you leave.

Fluorescein angiogram: Your eye doctor may want to give you this after a dilated eye exam. It’s a more detailed look at the blood vessels in your eyes.

You’ll be given eye drops to dilate your pupil in this test. You’ll put your head on a chin rest so it stays still. Dye that glows green under a fluorescent light will be injected in your arm. A camera takes pictures as the dye travels through the blood vessels in your retina. It shows the doctor any damage there.

The test can be done in your eye doctor’s office. It can also rule out things like age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

The test is safe, but you may have nausea and a warm feeling when the dye is put in. You should also expect your skin to turn a bit yellow. Your pee may become a darker, orange color for a day or two after the test.

Like what happened with the dilated eye exam, your vision will be blurry for hours afterward. You’ll need someone to drive you home.

Optical coherence tomography: This gives your doctor a 3-D view of the cell layers inside the retina. It uses light to take pictures of the back of your eye. It shows the thickness of the retina and can also show swelling in the macula.

This test can also see how well you are healing after treatment for VMA. Like with the fluorescein angiogram, you may have your pupils dilated and will sit with your head motionless on a special chin rest.

Dynamic B-scan ultrasound: It offers a real-time look at the back of your eye. It can spot problems like a retinal detachment.

Show Sources


Schechtman, D. Review of Optometry, November 2008.

Aironi, V. Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging, May 19, 2009.

Musa, F. Acta Ophthalmologica, December 2006.

Matthew Wood, MD, Eye Surgical Associates, Lincoln, NE.

National Eye Institute: “How is Macular Edema Treated?” “Macular Edema Fact Sheet,” “Macular Degeneration/Detection,” “Emerging technologies look deeper into the eyes to catch signs of disease,” “Facts About Vitreous Detachment.”

Wills Eye Hospital: “Fluorescein Angiography.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “What is Optical Coherence Tomography?” "Vitreomacular Traction Syndrome,” “What Are Dilating Eyedrops?”

American Society of Retina Specialists: “Vitreomacular Traction Syndrome.”

University of Iowa Healthcare: “Vitreous Syneresis: An Impending Posterior Vitreous Detachment.”

U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Fluorescein angiography.”

Review of Optometry: “A Look at VMT Syndrome.” “The Amsler Grid.”

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