Floaters & Flashes

Floaters

To see the world clearly, light must enter the front of your eye, pass through the vitreous (the clear gel like fluid inside of the eye), and focus on the retina (the light sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye). Frequently, tiny clumps of cells form inside the gel-like vitreous. The shadows these clumps cast on the retina are what we perceive as floaters. They can appear as dots, circles, lines, clouds, or cobwebs in the field of vision.

Floaters are more common as we reach middle age when the vitreous gel can start to thicken and shrink forming clumps or strands. Sometimes the shrinking of the vitreous can create tiny tears in the retina as it pulls away from the wall of the eye. If these tears bleed, new floaters may appear.

Flashes

With flashes, the vitreous gel is rubbing or pulling at the retina, moving it slightly from its normal position lining the back of the eye. Flashes are flashes of light that appear in your vision intermittently as a result of this subtle retinal displacement. It may be noticeable off and on for several weeks or months.

Causes of Floaters & Flashes

Trauma to the eye, migraine headaches, and a serious condition called retinal detachment can cause floaters and flashes.

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