Do Retina Conditions Go Away On Their Own?
It’s not uncommon for patients to avoid going to the doctor out of fear and stress about their health. This can be especially true for patients who need to see a retina specialist. The eye is a delicate and sensitive area, and fears about “what could go wrong” or receiving bad news can sometimes outweigh a patient’s own best interests. We want to dissuade patients from the thought process that if they just wait it out, whatever retina concern they are experiencing will simply go away on itself.
Very few retina conditions end in this way, and they are usually relatively minor to begin with. Also, in the rare event that something does go away on its own, this does not mean it won’t return. This is why it is always advisable to seek a professional medical opinion should symptoms arise, even if they are not painful or impactful to vision. However, there are a couple of retina conditions that do, in a way, dissipate without professional care. We wanted to clarify how those conditions work, and when it really is time to see a retina specialist.
Temporary retina conditions
As noted above, retina conditions that do not require treatment are rare. The following are examples where treatment may not necessarily be needed. However, please note, a retina specialist will never advise the “wait it out and hope for the best” approach. Please, at the minimum, connect with our practice to discuss symptoms and schedule a consultation.
Almost everyone has experienced floaters every so often during their lifetime. Floaters are small pieces of opaque material that “float” around the eye and cast shadows. These specks can float in and out, sometimes on repeat, within a person’s vision. Floaters do not typically pose any danger to a person’s vision, and they do tend to go away on their own. You should see a doctor about floaters if:
- You notice an increase in the appearance of floaters
- The floaters are impairing your vision
- The floaters are negatively impacting your quality of life
Brief flashes of light can appear within a person’s vision during posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). PVD occurs when the vitreous gel that fills the eye separates from the retina. It can cause both flashes and floaters, and it is a normal part of growing older because the vitreous gel shrinks as we age, hence the separation from the retina. People can begin to experience PVD after age 50, but it is most common after age 80. Similar to floaters, flashes caused by PVD do not inherently threaten a person’s vision. You may not even notice that you have PVD.
When should I see a doctor about flashes?
In serious cases of PVD, the vitreous gel shrinkage can actually cause a retina tear or other damage. A retina tear can cause a loss of vision, with treatment being needed immediately. So, even though flashes may not require treatment, medical advice is still recommended, especially aged 50 and older, to ensure that your risk for vision loss is low.