Understanding Eye Floaters and Flashes
Regardless of your age, you may have occasionally seen specks, dots and even flashes of light within your eye. For the most part, these “floaters” and “flashes” do not indicate a serious eye problem, but understanding what they are and why they occur can often ease your mind.
The natural aging process, trauma and/or diabetes can cause the vitreous (a clear, gel-like fluid which fills the inner eye) to shrink and pull away from the retina (the inner lining of your eye). This can in turn cause small particles of heavier gel within the vitreous to form. These “floaters” may appear as flecks, specs, lines, clouds, cobwebs or little dots. It’s interesting to note that people with myopia (nearsightedness) tend to develop floaters at a younger age. As the vitreous contracts from the retina, you may see flashes of light that can continue on and off for several weeks.
Although infrequent, the vitreous pulling away from the retina may tear it and can cause bleeding in your eye and/or retinal detachment. Symptoms may include a sudden onset of flashes of light, a large number of new floaters or the appearance of a dark shadow within your field of vision. If you experience these symptoms, it is imperative that you are diagnosed and treated promptly by an ophthalmologist.
Most individuals learn to ignore floaters once they understand that they are harmless and not associated with retinal tear or detachment. But if you’re alarmed about the floaters and/or flashes you’ve been seeing, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Yaldo Eye Center can perform a thorough medical eye examination and discuss your concerns with you to determine if you need further evaluation or treatment for your floaters and flashes.