What's Behind the Flashes and Floaters?

If you’ve seen something moving across your field of vision, only to realize that it’s a flash of light, then you’ve been experiencing floaters. You may also notice flashes, which are similar to a camera’s flash. They may accompany floaters, or you may notice them when you close your eyes and while waking.

In some cases, floaters can be normal, if you’ve noticed them periodically for most of your life. However, if you start noticing a sudden onset of floaters that remain in your vision or any flashes at all, it may be time to make an appointment to get your eyes checked out. 

At Retina Specialists, our team is dedicated to your eye health, and that’s why we’ve compiled this helpful guide to flashes and floaters in your vision.

What causes flashes and floaters?

Floaters are part of the gel-like substance in the back of your eyes that’s called the vitreous. Floaters are actually small flecks of collagen, a type of protein. When you age, your vitreous shrinks, causing you to potentially see more floaters.

This more commonly happens between the ages of 50 and 75. You may also notice them if you’ve had cataract surgery or if you’re nearsighted. So, at times floaters can be normal. However, when you see flashes, it means that your vitreous could be pulling away or tearing, which is cause for concern. 

When to see a doctor

Having a few floaters that don’t change over the course of your life is not a cause for alarm. However, it’s when the floaters are sudden or start multiplying, that you should see a doctor as soon as possible. 

Flashes are always serious because they could indicate a retinal tear, detachment, inflammation, and even infection. So, no matter what, it’s always important to see a doctor if you start to experience flashes.

While it’s rare, certain conditions can also cause floaters, like eye disease or injury, tumors, and diabetes. So, it’s quite important to see a doctor if you start to notice flashes and floaters.

Taking care of your eyes

Keeping your eyes healthy is important, whether you have flashers and floaters or not. You’ll want to be sure to protect your eyes regularly. Wear sunglasses when going out and be sure to take a break from constant screens. 

You’ll also want to quit smoking, as it can cause macular degeneration, which commonly leads to blindness. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of diverse nutrients is also helpful for keeping your eyes healthy. Finally, be sure to keep your yearly appointments with us, so we can track your eye health and make sure that your vision stays healthy.


To schedule an appointment, call us or visit our website for more information.

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