Floaters and Flashes
What Are Floaters?
Floaters occur when fibers move across the vitreous and into the field of vision, causing patients to see specks, strands, webs or other shapes as the fibers cast shadows on the retina. These symptoms are most visible when looking at a plain, light background. Flashes and floaters often appear at the same time, although some patients may only experience one symptom.
What Are Flashes?
Flashes that occur in vision are as a result of pressure on the retina, the bundle of nerves in the back of the eye where images are detected and transmitted to the brain, causing patients to see either flashing lights or lightning streaks.
What Causes Eye Flashes and Floaters?
Flashes and floaters of the eye commonly occur as the result of age-related changes to the vitreous gel. At birth, the vitreous is firmly attached to the retina and is a thick, firm substance without much movement. As we age, the vitreous becomes thinner and more watery, and tissue debris that was once secure in the firm vitreous gel is now able to move around on the inside the eye, casting shadows on the retina.
Are Floaters In The Eye Dangerous?
While flashes and floaters are common, especially as we age, it is important to see your doctor if you experience them, as they may indicate a retinal tear or hole. Your doctor can distinguish between harmless flashes and floaters, and those that may require treatment for an underlying condition.
The sudden appearance of flashes, floaters and other visual disturbances may indicate the vitreous pulling away from the retina, lead to a retinal detachment. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention to reduce the risk of complications such as loss of vision.