What are Flashes and Floaters?

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 12-Aug-2011

Flashes and Floaters1It is not uncommon for people to see flashes and floaters in their vision, but many wonder what causes these disturbances. Are they dangerous? Can anything be done to prevent or reduce them?

·Floaters can look like spots, strings, or cobwebs that seem to float through a person’s line of sight. An understanding of the anatomy of the eye explains this – our eyes are filled with a clear jellylike substance called vitreous gel. This gel liquefies as we age and, as it does, particles that have not liquefied appear in our vision as floaters. No one else can see these, and it is a normal occurrence. It typically happens as people age; however,, people who are nearsighted or have had eye trauma or surgery can notice them earlier, and with greater frequency.

·Flashes of light can also appear during this liquification process. This is because as the jelly liquefies, it pulls away from the back of the retina and causes false flashes of light. While not always a problem, these flashes can be very serious, and treatment may be necessary. If you are experiencing these, the best course of action is to have your eyes checked.

·Treatment for flashes and floaters can vary, depending on the seriousness of your retina problems. Some issues can be handled with a simple outpatient laser treatment; however, some may require a more extensive surgery.

Most people who experience floaters or flashes do not have a serious problem. However, if you have a sudden increase in either of these symptoms, or a sudden diminishing of your vision that involves what seems to be a veil or curtain falling over your sight, you should be seen by an eye doctor immediately. These serious symptoms may indicate a retinal tear or detachment. Key Whitman offers a full dilated eye exam, and if a problem is found, treatment must be provided immediately.

Dr. Whitman explains more on Good Morning Texas. Watch the video!

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