Eye floaters and eye flashes are real
It’s not your imagination. While sometimes you see them and sometimes you don’t, eye floaters and eye flashes are real.
And they can be alarming, as they can impede your vision.
Stop worrying and get a comprehensive eye exam to ensure eye floaters and eye flashes cause no harm. At Focus Eye Care & Surgery, we use cutting-edge technology and techniques to provide one of the best general and specialized eye care exams New York has available.
Our board-certified eye specialist, Dr. Neelofar Ghaznawi, performs a thorough evaluation for accurate diagnosis. She then develops a treatment program with you so your needs and lifestyle goals are addressed to improve your quality of life. Dr. Ghaznawi is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
FAQs about eye floaters and eye flashes
Eye floaters are dots, specks, or strands in your field of vision that drift in and out of view. They can come in many shapes and sizes, such as circles, lines, and even cobwebs, and are most obvious when looking at a plain, bright background.
While eye floaters appear in your field of vision, they are, in fact, shadows cast by tiny clumps of vitreous fluid inside your eye. The vitreous humor is colorless and gel-like substance filling the space between your eye’s natural lens and retina, the lining of tissue at the back of the eye that is sensitive to light. The vitreous gel keeps your eyeballs round, and absorbs the shock to the eyes when you bump your head.
As part of the normal aging process, the fluid shrinks and loses it gel-like quality.
The resulting liquefaction and contraction of the vitreous causes collagen fibers to collapse and bind together, resulting in specks, spots, or strings that float inside the eye.
When incoming light rays pass through the lens, these floaters block the light and consequently cast their shadows onto the retina.
Eye flashes are lightning streaks or flashing lights in your visual field. They are comparable to seeing ‘stars’ when you bump or hit your head. Eye flashes happen when the vitreous fluid has shrunk so much that it pulls on the back of the eye, creating a tear or detachment of the retina. The sudden appearance of eye flashes may be accompanied by a “curtain” blocking your side vision or drawn over your field of vision. This signals retinal detachment, a medical emergency that requires surgery to prevent blindness.
Laser for Eye Floaters
If you don’t get used to eye floaters, or they have become a nuisance, they can be reduced or removed by laser. Pulses of low-energy light are aimed at floaters to dissolve them. Eventually, they are reabsorbed into the vitreous humor.
Surgery for Retinal Detachment
Surgery is the first-line of treatment for detached retina. Eye surgeons do this by injecting the vitreous chamber (the space between your lens and retina) with gas, oil, or an air bubble that pushes the retina back into its place so it can heal.
The patient will have to keep his or her head in a specific position following the surgery to keep the bubble in the right place. Over time, as the eye heals, the body replaces the bubble with vitreous fluid.
Flashes of light may also suggest the onset of a migraine. Migraines may happen with or without headaches. The latter type, called ophthalmic migraine, happens when jagged lines cross your field of vision. These episodes usually last up to half an hour.
Yes, if you experience new ones that block your vision, cause pain, or get in the way of your day-to-day functioning.
In general, though they may be bothersome, floaters and flashes are part of the natural aging process and often present no cause for concern.
Eye floaters are fairly common in older people and usually do not require treatment. They can occur as a result of age-related shrinkage of vitreous humor, which is the gel-like fluid within your eyes. However, if many eye floaters and flashes suddenly appear in your vision, you must consult with an ophthalmologist immediately as it may be a sign of retinal detachment. Retinal detachment can lead to blindness if not promptly treated. Some other rarer causes of eye floaters and flashes can be infections of the eye, eye trauma, migraine, diabetic retinopathy, and eye tumors.
Age-related vitreous humor shrinkage cannot be prevented, and therefore, it is quite difficult to prevent eye floaters. However practicing healthy behaviors such as eating a diet rich in essential vitamins, avoiding smoke and sun exposure, minimizing screen time, and staying hydrated can all be beneficial for eye floaters prevention.
In the majority of cases, eye floaters and eye flashes may be a normal part of aging as the gel-like fluid in your eyes shrink with increasing age. But, in some rare cases, eye floaters may indicate a more serious condition called retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is an emergency, which can lead to blindness if not treated in time.
If eye floater and eye flashes appear suddenly and in large numbers, then it can be a medical emergency as it could be indicative of a detached retina. Retinal detachment can lead to blindness if it is not treated immediately.
Chronically high blood pressure that has not been managed can lead to hypertensive retinopathy, in which there is significant damage to the retinal vessels. A common finding in hypertensive retinopathy is retinal hemorrhage, which itself can present in the form of eye flashes and eye floaters. Further eye exams are essential to diagnose the underlying etiology of eye flashes and floaters.
Minor retinal detachments covering only a small area may appear without any symptoms. However, large retinal detachments can present with characteristic symptoms such as: Eye floaters and eye flashes; A dark curtain that appears on the middle or on the sides of the vision.
Eye floaters and eye flashes may be indicative of retinal detachment, which is a serious condition requiring urgent treatment. Consult an ophthalmologist straight away if you suddenly experience eye floaters and eye flashes clouding your vision.
There are several reasons why eye floaters and eye flashes may occur. They may occur as a result of age-related vitreous shrinkage, infections, tumors, trauma, hemorrhage, or retinal detachment. Eye floaters and flashes may appear worse on some days, and better on other days. But they usually do not go away completely. If eye floaters suddenly worsen, then it is best to consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.