Understanding Floaters and Flashes: What You Should Do

By Jeffrey Schultz on November 09, 2015

A view of the back of the eyeDr. Jeffrey E. Schultz and the entire team at Lifetime Eye Care is proud to help people around the greater Cleveland area have the best vision possible. Offering advanced vision exams and eye treatment, we can address a whole host of problems as they arise.

A number of our patients have questions about the nature of floaters, flashes, and spots. We'd like to take a few moments to address these matters in a little detail so you understand what this involves.

What are floaters, flashes, and spots?

Floaters, flashes, and spots are different kinds of visual flaws that may arise and affect the overall nature and quality of your vision. It may be best to consider each of these individually.

  • Floaters and Spots - Floaters and spots may appear to be small specks or bits that drift around in your field of vision. Sometimes the floaters are likened to cobwebs. They are most noticeable when you are staring at a plain background of some kind. The floaters themselves are clumps of cells that are floating in the vitreous gel within the eye.

  • Flashes - Flashes, on the other hand, are sudden bursts of light in your visual field. These can occur for weeks at a time or months at a time. The flashes are the result of the retina being pulled by the vitreous gel inside of the eye.

Sometimes These Issues Are Natural

Floaters, flashes, and spots become more frequent as people get older. While it's part of the natural aging process, it can also be the cause for some alarm in certain cases.

Are These Medical Emergencies?

As noted above, that's not necessarily a potential cause for alarm, but in some cases it's of the utmost importance that you seek medical attention following a sudden case of floaters appearing.

In general, if you notice a lot of floaters suddenly appear and it's coupled with flashes of light, that's when you should seek immediate medical attention. In a number of cases this is considered a sign of retina damage or potential retinal detachment. Getting retinal tears treated as soon as possible is a sure way of ensuring the lasting health and wellness of your vision.

Vision Problems and Conditions Associated with These Issues

The floaters, flashes, and spots are often the result of the vitreous gel pulling and tugging at the retina. When a tear occurs, it makes a person 50 percent more likely to suffer from retinal detachment.

Retinal detachment may be the result of a serious injury, problems with advanced diabetes, or an issue with an inflammatory eye disorder.

Undergo Regular Eye Exams

It's always important to have your eyes checked regularly to note potential issues with the vitreous gel and the health of your retinas. If an issue can be caught early, an eye care specialist will be able to preserve your vision and prevent more advanced vision loss. This is especially important to consider in your golden years given the changes in eye health as you get older.

Contact Lifetime Eye Care

For more information on addressing floaters as well as other causes of vision problems, be sure to contact our advanced eye care and vision center today. The entire team here at Lifetime Eye Care look forward to your visit and helping you experience the best vision possible.

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