Floaters and Flashes

Floaters and Flashes

Learn the difference between floaters and flashers, and what to do if you start seeing them.

I’m sure at one point or another you’ve “seen stars” or had weird flashes of light in your eyes. It can happen when you rub your eyes or if you hit your head just right. Occasionally, they can be the result of something more serious, especially if they interfere with vision or won’t go away.

There are two main “things that aren’t there” that people tend to see: floaters and flashes. Floaters look like small dots, specks, lines or even cobwebs that seem to float in front of your eye. Even though you see them in front of you, they are actually inside your eye. Floaters are tiny clumps of cells or gel inside your vitreous (the gel-like fluid between the lens and retina). They generally start to appear as our eyes age, and are usually not serious. Floaters tend to become less noticeable over time, and can be more visible after you’ve had cataract surgery.

Flashes are exactly what the name would indicate: flashes of light—or lightning streaks—in the field of vision of one or both eyes. They can look like jagged lines, like lightning, or even like “snow” we used to see on our TV’s.

These can be caused by many things, some minor—like the flashes seen after rubbing your eyes, and some serious—like a retinal detachment. Migraines can be preceded by flashes, and on occasion the migraine flashes happen without the headache.

Usually, floaters and flashes only last for a few minutes and aren’t anything to worry about. However, you have either one for the first time, if the severity and length of either one becomes more intense, or if they start to interfere with your everyday life, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor. It could be a sign of your retina starting to tear or detach. Having your eyes checked regularly is a good way to take care of your eyes to make sure floaters and flashes don’t become detrimental to your life. Call 866-439-3588 to make an appointment with Sterling Vision or schedule online.