July 2018 What Are Floaters & Flashes?

July 2018 What Are Floaters & Flashes?

What are Floaters & Flashes?


Spots, often called floaters are small semitransparent particles in the vitreous which is the clear jelly like fluid inside the eyeball. They can often appear as shadowy images of particles floating in the eye or thread like strands or cobwebs. Since they are in your eye they move when your eye moves and appear to dart away from your vision if you try and look at them directly.

Where do they come from?

Floaters are often caused by small specs of protein or other matter in the eye that got trapped there while the eyes formed before birth. They can also appear due to aging. Certain eye diseases and injuries can cause floaters as well.

How serious are floaters?

Most floaters are not harmful and do not affect your vision. They are a natural part of the eye’s aging process. However if you notice a significant increase in floaters that could be an indicator of a more serious problem. If you start seeing more floaters call us for an appointment. Your optometrist can determine if what you are seeing is harmless or a symptom of a more serious problem that requires treatment.

What are flashes and should I be concerned?

Flashes can look like flashing light or lightening streaks in your vision and are caused by the vitreous rubbing or pulling on the retina. As people age it is common to see flashes occasionally.

If you suddenly see more floaters than normal along with bright flashes of light you need to see your optometrist. This could be a sign that you have a tear in your retina and it could detach. Call us at 423-239-5491. This should be evaluated promptly to prevent serious loss of vision.