Many people experience eye floaters and flashes. Most of the time, they are harmless. However, in some cases, they can indicate an underlying eye problem.
In today’s post, your local eye doctor, Nova Vision Center, discusses what causes floaters and flashes and when they can be signs of a serious condition.
What Are Floaters and Flashes?
Floaters can look like small specks, dots, lines, cobwebs or circles. You may assume that they’re in front of the eyes, but they are actually inside. They are shadows cast by clumps of cells or gel inside the vitreous.
You typically see floaters when you’re staring at a plain surface. The vitreous begins to thicken or shrink as you age. A posterior vitreous detachment can cause the formation of floaters. They aren’t serious and tend to fade away in time. In the case of severe floaters, surgery may be needed.
Flashes look like sparks or strands of light that hit the visual field. They occur when the vitreous gel rubs, bumps or tugs on the retina. Flashes become more common as you age.
It’s recommended to consult your optometrist for an eye exam if you’re experiencing discomfort, as floaters and flashes can sometimes indicate an underlying eye condition.
When Do They Indicate a Serious Eye Problem?
In some cases, floaters and flashes are warning signs of eye conditions. Posterior vitreous detachment can sometimes cause the retina to tear. Fluid in the eye can enter through the tear and sever the retina from the tissues that sustain it. This condition is called retinal detachment and it can lead to permanent vision loss.
Common symptoms of retinal tears are the sudden appearance of floaters and flashes, vision shading from one side and decline in the quality of your central vision.
Immediately call your eye doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms. Early detection and prompt treatment of retinal tear can prevent retinal detachment. Visit Nova Vision Center for a comprehensive eye exam. Aside from eye disease management, we also offer high-quality contact lenses and eyeglasses. Call us at (703) 291-0080 or request an appointment online. We assist patients in Falls Church and Arlington, VA.