Floaters and Flashes

floaters and flashesThis can sometimes be a sign of an impending retinal detachment and an examination is important to rule out problems that may require surgical attention. As we age, the vitreous jelly in the eye becomes more liquid and takes up less space. In many people, there is a time when the jelly, along with its clear surrounding membrane comes off the retina, where it is loosely attached. There are particles that can be seen as floaters at that point and as the membrane pulls at the attachments to the retina, there are flashes seen (tiny arcs of light, seen especially at night to the side of our vision as we turn quickly). Floaters are usually tiny flecks of condensed protein or red blood cells in the vitreous jelly of the eye. These float back and forth as we look side to side. While they can be a totally normal finding, they also could be a sign of a retinal tear.

If you are experiencing floaters, especially if you also have flashes, you need a dilated exam as soon as possible to rule out a tear.