Floaters & Flashers

What are The Symptoms of Eye Floaters?

Commonly, people experience black or grey spots or threads in their field of vision. These are known as floaters and are generally harmless by themselves. Other symptoms of floaters include:

  • Spots or threads that move when you move your eyes, so they are difficult to focus on
  • Spots or threads that are especially noticeable when looking at light backgrounds
  • Slight shadows over your vision in certain types of light

While floaters are considered to be harmless, if you are experiencing an abnormal increase in floaters accompanied by vision loss or flashes of light, you should see an eye care specialist as soon as possible.

What is an Eye Floater?

While you appear to be ‘seeing’ floaters, they are really on the inside of your eye and are the result of debris moving through the gel like vitreous fluid (a clear gel) between your lens and retina. The retina is a thin layer of light sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye.

What is an Eye Flash?

Flashes of light often occur when the gel pulls against the retina as it changes in consistency. They can also be the result of physical impact to the eye region that affects the retina or observing a very bright light. All of these effects should be temporary and if they occur often or persistently, you should contact your eye specialist.

What Causes Floaters and Flashes?

Floaters and flashes in the eye are generally harmless and are caused by changes in the vitreous fluid, often due to aging. The vitreous fluid becomes more liquid in the center and moves away from the retina, pulling on the retina to cause flashes of light and causing collagen and cells in the eye to clump together, resulting in floaters.

Occasionally, floaters can also be caused by a small bleed from a vessel in the eye. This will appear as a grey, cloudy effect in your vision and can take weeks or months to completely disappear.

It is important to note that a noticeable increase in the persistence or severity of floaters and flashes along with suddenly reduced vision can be an indicator of a retinal tear or a retinal detachment – two very serious medical emergencies that require rapid treatment by qualified eye specialists.

Can Floaters and Flashes Be Prevented?

There is no way to prevent eye floaters and flashes but fortunately they are generally harmless and largely unnoticeable. By knowing the symptoms of retinal tears and detachment, you will be able to recognize if your floaters and flashes are a sign of a far more severe condition and seek the assistance you need to preserve your eyesight.

How Will Having Floaters and Flashes Impact on my Life?

Eye flashes and floaters should have very minimal impact on your life. You may notice them occurring more frequently as you age but they should not affect your eyesight or quality of life in any way.

However if they are very numerous, they can affect your daily life by affecting your vision and ability to complete daily tasks. In these cases, a vitrectomy may be performed.

How are Floaters and Flashes Treated?

As floaters and flashes are generally harmless, there is no treatment available for people who experience them at a normal frequency. For some people, however, they can be numerous enough to have a significant effect on vision. These are very rare cases and after a full eye exam, by an eye care professional, a vitrectomy, described below, may be recommended.

How Quickly do I Need Treatment?

If you are concerned about the frequency and severity of the floaters and flashes in your eye or eyes, it’s advisable you contact your eye specialist for an eye exam. If the floaters and flashes are accompanied by the symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment, you need to see a specialist immediately in order to prevent as much permanent damage to your vision as possible.

What Can I Expect From my Floaters and Flashes Treatment?

A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure done on an outpatient basis in which the vitreous (the clear, gel like substance in your eye) is removed and replaced with a clear saline solution. This will clear the eye of floaters and prevent the pulling on the retina that results in flashes.

How Long Will it Take to Recover From my Floaters and Flashes Treatment?

You will be able to go home after the vitrectomy and should rest for the next 24 hours. Your eye care specialist will call you for a follow up examination and will help you treat any discomfort or inflammation that may be present. Full recovery should take one to two weeks.

How Soon Can I Resume Normal Activity?

After resting for the first 24 to 48 hours, patients can generally resume normal activities. Contact sports and other high impact activities should be avoided until the eye is fully healed, usually within a month or two.

Why Choose Eye Centers of Florida for Your Evaluation?

The eye care professionals at Eye Centers of Florida are extensively qualified in evaluating eye health. We can assist you with further information on floaters and flashes as well as assist you on all other ocular health matters, including medical emergencies.

Request an Appointment today. Our centers are located across Southwest Florida, including Fort Myers and Naples.