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Skip Navigation Links Home > Patient Info & Resources > Education & Tools > Eye Conditions > Flashes & Floaters

Flashes & Floaters

What are Floaters?
The back of the eye is filled with a gel-like substance called the vitreous. As you age, this vitreous gel liquefies and may leave pieces of the gel floating around. It is these pieces that float around in the vitreous and are noticeable as little “gnats” or black specks. Many times they will disappear, but new ones may take their place.

Are they Dangerous?
Generally they are not dangerous, but if you have a sudden onset of floaters, or a large shower of them, you should call to be checked immediately. It could be a sign of a retinal emergency.

What causes Flashes?
The movement of the vitreous gel in the eye can cause a flash or flashes of otherwise non existent light to appear in your vision. Again, this symptom should always be checked in as these symptoms may indicate a hole or tear in the retina.

Some flashes, especially those that last awhile and obscure the vision, can be a visual migraine, or migraine scotoma. This should also be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist.

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