people see small spots or specks moving in their field of
vision or experience flashes of light. These occurrences are
called floaters and flashes. Although annoying, floaters and
flashed are generally of little importance. However, in some
cases, floaters and flashes may be the symptoms of a more
serious eye problem, such as a retinal detachment.
is a floater?
is a small clump of gel that forms in the vitreous, the clear
jelly-like fluid which fills the cavity inside the eye. Floaters
may be seen as dots, lines, cobwebs, or spiders and are most
often noticed when reading, looking at a blank wall or gazing
at at clear sky
(see red arrows on
floaters appear to be in front of the eye, they are actually
floating in the fluid inside the eye. Sometimes floaters do
not interfere with vision at all. However when a floater enters
the line of vision, light is blocked and a shadow is cast
on the retina.
appear as flashing lights or lightning streaks in the field
of vision (see diagram below)
although no light is actually flashing. Flashes are most often
noticed at night or in a dark room.
are caused by the vitreous gel tugging on the retina. If the
gel actually separates from the retina, flashes of light may
appear periodically for several weeks. Flashes which appear
along with a large number of new floaters or with a loss of
part of the field of vision may indicate retinal detachment,
requiring an immediate eye exam.
is the best medicine
floaters and flashes are usually not considered serious vision
problems, one should have a complete eye examination to determine
their importance. In most cases, treatment is not necessary.
However, early detection and treatment of serious problems,
such as retinal tears, can prevent permanent vision loss.
you are experiencing floaters, flashes or other vision problems,
you should obtain a complete eye examination.