Flashing Lights and Floaters

Flashing Lights and Floaters

Flashes and floaters are symptoms of the eye that commonly occur as a result of age-related changes to the vitreous gel.  When we are born, the vitreous is firmly attached to the retina and it is a thick, firm substance without much movement.  But as we age, the vitreous becomes thinner and more watery and tissue debris that was once secure in the firm gel can now move around inside the eye, casting shadows on the retina also called a “floater”.

Flashes in vision can occur as a result of pressure on the retina in the back of the eye and causes us to see flashing lights or lightening streaks.  Floaters occur when fibers move across the vitreous and into your field of vision, causing us to see specs, spots,  strands, webs or other shapes as the fibers cast shadows on the retina,  These spots are most visible when looking at a plain light background.

Although flashes and floaters are common, especially as we age, it is very important to see our doctor if you experience them, as they may indicate a retinal tear or hole.  Our doctors can distinguish between harmless flashes and floaters and those that may require treatment for an underlying condition.  Most flashes and floaters will become less noticeable with time as the patient adapts to the spots.  Although these floaters are harmless, it is important to continue to receive your regular eye exams to ensure that any permanent changes to your vision do not occur.