Flashes and Floaters

What are floaters?

Flashes and Floaters can effect your vision greatly. Floaters look like small specks, dots, circles, lines or cobwebs in your field of vision. While they seem to be in front of your eye, they are floating inside. Floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous that fills your eye. What you see are the shadows these clumps cast on your retina.

What are flashes?

Flashes can look like flashing lights or lightning streaks in your field of vision. Some people compare them to seeing “stars” after being hit on the head. You might see flashes on and off for weeks, or even months. Flashes happen when the vitreous rubs or pulls on your retina. As people age, it is common to see flashes occasionally.

Understanding Eye Flashes and Floaters

– Specks, dots and even flashes of light within your eye are flashers or floaters

– They can occur at all ages

– Generally, “floaters” and “flashes” do not indicate a serious eye problem

– Understanding what they are can often ease your mind


The natural aging process, trauma and/or diabetes can cause the a clear, gel-like fluid which fills the inner eye, known as the vitreous 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. As the vitreous contracts from the retina, flashes of light 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

 – 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.

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