Flashes & Floaters

Flashes & Floaters

What are flashes and floaters?
Flashes are recognizable as flashes and streaks of light across the field of vision. Sometimes they are indicators of more severe problems within the eye itself. Flashes can also be correlated to traction on the retina from attachments of the Vitreous (clear jelly in the back of the eye).  Flashes appear like a camera flash or a lightening streak, but instead of perceiving it form an outside source, this phenomenon occurs within the eye itself.

Floaters are darker shadow spots that move when your eye moves, but do not coordinate directly with the direction of the eye movement. Seeing floaters is similar to looking at single celled micro-organisms under a microscope.

These visual distractions and impairments are often temporary regardless of their possible connection to permanent or serious eye disorders or injuries. Any significantly noticeable changes in the presence of flashes or floaters should be an obvious alert to seek medical consult. Flashes and floaters can be considered as the body’s way of self monitoring for possible complications within the optical system.

Who has flashes and floaters?
Flashes and floaters are extremely common and normal throughout the course of life; well over half of the population experiences these occurrences. Flashes and floaters generally increase with age, and may or may not be indicators of serious disease or damage within the optic system

What is the cause?
Flashes are usually caused by scars or tears in the retina. Also, any considerable stress on the retina such as pulling or detachment will produce flashes in the visual field. Vitreous separation and damage is a major cause of flashes and floaters. Vitreous separation can lead to retinal tears. 

Is there a cure?
As flashes and floaters are usual side effects or indicators of other problems, when the eye disorder is diagnosed and surgery or treatment options have been implemented, these subsidiary effects should subside. Regardless, people noticing an increase of flashes or floaters should contact an ophthalmologist and get their eyes checked by as soon as possible, even if the symptoms go away (which most will over time).