Flashes & Floaters

Flashes and Floaters are symptoms experienced by many people. Have you ever spotted a small speck, dot, or squiggle floating in the air, or have you noticed flickering lights or lightning streaks that you knew weren’t really there? If so, you are one of many people who have experienced the common vision phenomenon know as eye floaters and flashes.

The majority of people – 7 out of every 10, in fact- will experience eye floaters and flashes at some point in their lives. When people reach middle age, the vitreous gel may start to thicken or shrink, forming clumps or strands inside the eye. The vitreous gel pulls away from the back wall of the eye, causing a posterior vitreous detachment. This is a common cause of floaters and flashes.

Why Eye Floaters and Flashes Occur

Eye floaters and flashes are caused by changes in the vitreous gel that occur as we get older. The vitreous gel is a clear gel which fills most of the interior of the eyeball and is mostly water but also contains proteins and other molecules.

You should see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible if:

  • Even one new floater appears suddenly
  • A sudden increase in size and number of floaters
  • You see sudden flashes of light
  • Having a sudden decrease in your vision
  • Seeing a gray curtain moving across your field of vision

Time is your best Treatment

Eye floaters and flashes caused by the vitreous gel are most visible when you are looking at a plain, light-colored background. When the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina, you may see what looks like flashing lights or lightning streaks.

Eye floaters and flashes normally require no treatment. Flashes usually fade away, and over time most people don’t notice floaters as often because the brain learns to filter out the visual interference. An annoying floater in the center of your vision sometimes can be relieved by rolling your eyes around, which swirls the vitreous gel in the eyeball and gets the floater to move away.

If you notice the sudden appearance of light flashes, call our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

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