If you’ve ever seen floating specks or small flashes of light in your field of vision, you’ve most likely wondered what was causing them and if you should be concerned that there’s a problem with your eyes.
The appearance of these “floaters and flashes” stems from the fluid that fills the inside of the eye, which is called the vitreous gel. When small strands or clumps of tissue form in the vitreous gel, they cast shadows on the retina. These shadows may look like floating specks, circles, lines or cobwebs in your field of vision, and are often visible when looking at a plain background, such as a blank piece of paper or a clear, blue sky.
Flashes occur when the vitreous gel tugs or pulls on your retina. This tugging or pulling separates the vitreous gel from the retina, causing flashes of light to appear. Some people compare them to “seeing stars,” and flashes tend to occur off and on for several weeks.
While seeing floaters and flashes may be alarming, especially if they develop suddenly, both conditions are typically related to aging and don’t usually indicate a serious problem. As we age, our vitreous starts to thicken or shrink, which can cause the clumping, tugging and pulling that causes floaters and flashes.
When To Be Concerned
Floaters and flashes are common and usually harmless, and they tend to fade or go away over time without any need for treatment. However, in certain rare cases, flashes that occur with a large number of new floaters and possibly a sudden loss of part of your field of vision may indicate a retinal tear or detachment. This is a serious issue that calls for an immediate eye examination.
In addition, any sudden onset of numerous new floaters or flashes may be warning signs of ocular disease. You need to be evaluated by your eye care professional to determine whether these floaters or flashes are cause for concern and treatment.
In summary, seek immediate help from your eye doctor if you experience:
- Many more floaters than usual
- A sudden onset of many new floaters or flashes
- Flashes and floaters in the same eye
- Loss of peripheral vision loss, with darkness on one or both sides of your vision
Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN, dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to complex eye surgeries. To meet our doctors and learn more about our specialities, visit our website or give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.