Flashes and floaters are common eye issues that are usually harmless, but it can be concerning when you first experience them. They are caused by degeneration of the vitreous, the gel inside the eye, and it is important to have the retina examined by an eye specialist if you experience a new, large floater or shower of floaters, persistent flashes of light and loss of vision.
Floaters are small specks moving in your field of vision. They are actually tiny clumps inside the vitreous and can appear as dots, lines or clouds. As we get older, the vitreous gel thickens and shrink, forming clumps inside the eye. They can be a sign of something more serious; if the vitreous gel pulls away from the back of the eye it can cause posterior vitreous detachment and tear the retina.
Flashes occur when the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina and again are more common as we get older. Inflammation of the eye, known as uveitis, and recent intraocular surgery are also risk factors of developing flashes and floaters.
What are treatment options for floaters and flashes?
Treatment options depend on the underlying cause. Most floaters and flashes are harmless. Small tears on the retina can be treated with laser and, if it is the result of retina detachment, you may require surgery.