Flashes & Floaters
Flashes and floaters are common vision symptoms. Almost everyone experiences the occasional floater or flash; most of the time they are harmless, but sometimes they can be signs of a major problem with your vision and general health.
About Eye Floaters
Floaters refer to little spots and flecks that appear in your vision. They tend to look clumpy and strange. Many patients liken them to cobwebs or dust bunnies that appear in their vision. A lot of people notice minor floaters in their vision, which is normal to a certain degree. Floaters become a significant concern when they come on very suddenly and are pronounced.
What Causes Floaters?
Floaters are the result of the composition of the vitreous gel in the eye. The interior portion of the vitreous gel is more liquid-like. The gel-like outer portion eventually collapses inward to the liquid portion, resulting in floaters. Typically the floaters are harmless and natural in small amounts.
Flashes are just what they sound like: a sudden flash of light in your field of vision. You might see stars, jagged lines, or perhaps even distortions in your vision that appear to be heatwaves. Usually, a sudden flash in your vision is a sign of something wrong.
What Causes Flashes?
The flashes of light you see are the result of the retina becoming physically stimulated, often by the vitreous gel tugging or touching the retina. Flashes tend to be brief and temporary for minor mechanical stimulation. With major retinal health issues, flashes may be long-lasting and severe.
What Eye Conditions Can Cause Floaters and Flashes?
There are a few serious eye conditions for which flashes and floaters are symptoms or warning signs:
- Retinal Detachment – Retinal detachment refers to when the retina peels away from the back of the eye. This can lead to permanent vision loss if the problem is not addressed as soon as possible.
- Retinal Tears – Retinal tears occur when the retina peels off the back of the eye but does not completely detach. These can be serious and can increase the risk of total retinal detachment.
- Myopia (Nearsightedness) – The shape of a nearsighted person's eyes can lead to stimulation of the retina from the vitreous gel.
- Eye Infections – Serious inflammation of the eyes can lead to the vitreous gel liquefying, causing many floaters in the process.
- Diabetes – Long-term diabetes can lead to a condition known as diabetic retinopathy, which affects the blood vessels of the retina and can contribute to serious vision problems as a result.
- Cataract Surgery – A harmless side effect of cataract surgery, it's possible for harmless floaters to form even months after the procedure.
When to See a Doctor about Floaters and Flashes
If you notice the very sudden onset of flashes and floaters in your vision, be sure to seek immediate medical attention. Acting quickly can save your vision and prevent varying degrees of vision loss.
Get Treatment for Floaters and Flashes in Kansas and Missouri
For more information about flashes, floaters, and other vision concerns, or to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with a retina specialist, contact Retina Associates of Kansas City today. be sure to contact our team of advanced eye care specialists today. With locations throughout Kansas and Missouri, we’re easily accessible to patients from Kansas City, Topeka, and other surrounding areas.