Flashes and Floaters

Flashes and Floaters

Clouds in Your Eyes

Floaters can appear as small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision. Most people have them normally, but don’t notice them unless they’re frequent or grow in size. They can look like cobwebs, floating bugs or squiggly lines in the front of the eye. They’re actually floating inside it, in the clear, gel-like substance called vitreous.

Why Do Flashes and Floaters Occur? 

As we age, the vitreous tends to shrink slightly and detach from the retina, forming clumps within the eye. What you see are the shadows these clumps cast on the retina. Flashes come from the traction of the vitreous gel on the retina and may look like twinkles or lightning streaks. The appearance of flashing lights comes from the traction of the vitreous gel on the retina at the time of vitreous separation, which is called Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD).

Floaters and flashes are sometimes associated with retinal tears. As the vitreous shrinks it can pull on the retina and cause a tear. This is a serious problem and can lead to a retinal detachment and blindness. If new floaters appear suddenly or you see sudden flashes of light, see an ophthalmologist immediately.

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