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Eye Floaters & Flashers

Eye floaters and flashers are two separate phenomena. Eye floaters on their own are not generally cause for concern. In fact, you’ve probably seen eye floaters for your entire life and just never known what they were.

Eye floaters are tiny pieces of the vitreous that break loose into the back portion of the eye. What you are actually seeing are the shadows these pieces of gel are casting on the retina as they move. They are also never in focus because they move when your eyes do.
Are Eye Flashers a Cause for Concern?

While floaters are common, flashers are cause for concern. They could be indicative of retinal detachment, or demonstrative of degeneration on the way to retinal detachment.

In most cases, flashers are the result of mechanical stimulation on the optical nerve. These flashers, called photopsias, may appear as sparks, light flickers, lightning bolts, or other odd projections. In these cases the flashers are unlikely to be cause for concern, though if they grow in frequency you should speak to one of our Optometrists.

Risk Factors for Eye Floaters & Flashers
Eye floaters become increasingly common as we age and are a symptom of presbyopia. They are also more common for people with diabetes, have had cataract surgery, or are extremely myopic.
More serious potential causes of floaters are:

  • Infections
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Inflammation, swelling
  • Retinal tears and detachments
  • Injury to the eye

In rare cases, eye floaters can become obstructive to vision. In these cases you may receive a vitrectomy, where the vitreous is removed and replaced with a saline solution (which the body then replaces with a natural solution).

Concerned About Eye Floaters/Flashers?
If you are experiencing an unusual number of floaters or flashers, visit us for a comprehensive eye exam. During the exam we will look for signs of concern and investigate any vision problems you may have.