What Are Floaters?
Sometimes you may see dark spots, small specks, or clouds moving in your field of vision. These are called “Floaters.” You often see these when you are staring at a plain background like a wall or the sky. While both Flashers and Floaters are conditions in the gel of the eye, Floaters can exist in the gel of the eye from birth. Floaters are small clumps of the cells inside the Vitreous, or the clear jelly like fluid that fills your eyes. Even though the floaters seem to be floating in front of your eye they are actually inside it. Floaters come in all shapes and sizes from dots, to circles, lines, clouds or cobwebs.
Are Floaters Serious?
Flashers and Floaters should not share your same level of concern. If you only have a few floaters that do not change over time it is not a cause for concern. It is important to see your doctor if:
- Eye floaters seem to worsen over time, especially if the changes are sudden
- You experience flashes of light or any vision loss accompanied by eye floaters
- You develop floaters after eye surgery or after an eye injury
- You have eye pain along with your floaters
What Are Flashes?
Flashes are visual effects where a person sees sudden flashes of light. Some of the effects are like flashing lights, an arc of light, or the feeling like a light-bulb has just flashed on and off in the periphery of vision.
Are Flashes Serious?
Flashers and Floaters differ in the need for immediate medical attention. Regular occurrence of flashing is a warning that an immediate medical diagnosis by an eye specialist is needed because of the risk of a severe retinal detachment.
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates for the surrounding eye tissue. If it is not repaired promptly it can lead to permanent loss of vision. A retinal detachment often starts with a retinal tear that allows fluid to seep into the retina causing the separation from the tissue. Flashes are an indication that this may have happened. Other indications are a darkening of the areas in your peripheral vision and occasionally a heavy presence of Floaters.
If you have suffered from eye trauma, have a family history of retinal detachment, have had cataract surgery, or are severely nearsighted, you may be at risk for a detached retina. It’s important to pay attention to any flashers and floaters if you are at risk and to immediately see an eye doctor for an examination. Most likely a retinal tear can be caught in an early stage and more easily repaired by a simpler process of using a laser to seal the tear shut or sealing it by freezing it shut.
What Causes Flashes?
Flashes are caused by the result of 4 possible events:
- Traction of the retina
- Vitreous detachment
- Or retinal detachment