Floaters & Flashes
One of the most common symptoms that leads patients to seek a retina specialist is the presence of floaters and flashes in their vision. Floaters and flashes are very common occurrences that are experienced by almost everyone at some point in their lives. Although eye flashes and floaters are often not a cause for concern, they can sometimes indicate a more serious condition, especially when they become increasingly numerous or prominent.
What Are Eye Flashes?
Eye flashes often appear as small points of flashing light in your field of vision. They may look like a twinkling star, flash of lightning, or a small bright spotlight. Eye flashes are commonly associated with posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) and vitreomacular traction syndrome (VMT), in which the vitreous gel shrinks and creates a tractional pull on the retina.
What Are Eye Floaters?
Eye floaters are a visual phenomenon in which you see dark or transparent shapes in your field of vision. These shapes can look like squiggly lines, spots, specks, or even spiderwebs. They are often more noticeable when looking at a plain bright background, such as a white wall or a cloudless sky. Floaters are caused by clumps of vitreous fibers accumulating on the retina and casting small shadows onto your sense of vision.
When to See a Doctor for Eye Flashes & Floaters
Although eye flashes and floaters are often harmless, it’s a good idea to talk to your ophthalmologist about them and to keep track of their occurrence. However, if you experience a sudden increase in eye flashes and floaters, it can indicate that a retinal tear or retinal detachment is about to occur. Retinal tears and detachments are medical emergencies that require immediate care. If not treated immediately, permanent vision loss is possible.