Flashes & Floaters

What are Flashes?

Have you ever seen flashes of light, stars, or streaks that aren’t really there? A few of these flashes are seen by everyone from time to time. Usually you see them one eye at a time. Flashes are often caused by the vitreous (the gel filling the inside of your eye) pulling on the retina (a membrane that lines the inside of your eye).

Who Gets Flashes?

As you age or if you are nearsighted (have fuzzy distance vision) you are more likely to see flashes. Sometimes, flashes are signs of other eye problems and need care.

When Do Flashes Need Treatment?

Flashes that appear all of a sudden or greatly increase in number may be a sign of a problem. They may be caused by the vitreous pulling too hard on the retina. This results in causing the retina to tear or detach from the back of the eye. Rapid vision loss can result. Your eye doctor can find the cause of flashes and select a treatment plan.

What are Floaters?

Floaters, sometimes called spots, are small semi-transparent or cloudy particles that float within the vitreous, the clear jelly like fluid that fills the inner portion of your eye. Floaters are usually harmless, however deterioration of the vitreous fluid may also cause floaters to appear.

Who gets Floaters?

The older you get, the more likely you’II notice floaters. Floaters can also be caused by any eye injury or surgery. If floaters appear suddenly or greatly increase in number, they may be a sign of an eye problem that needs care.

When do Floaters Need Treatment?

A sudden increase in the number of floaters you see may be a sign of a tear in the retina or some other eye problems. Over time a tear can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye. Your eye doctor can find out what is causing floaters and suggest a treatment plan, if necessary.

Who Should Get an Exam?

See a doctor if you have these symptoms:

  • You have never seen flashes or floaters before and all of a sudden you see a lot of them.
  • You’ve see some flashes or floaters before, but you have a sudden increase in the number you see.
  • You’ve see some flashes or floaters for a long time, but they now look different.
  • Flashes and floaters make it hard for you to do normal tasks.
  • You see a curtain floater coming across your eye.