Floaters are one of the most common and often benign abnormalities which occur in the human eye. Almost everyone experiences them at one point or another, but they are just part and parcel of ageing and in the majority of cases, should not be of any concern.
Flashes are a little different. While floaters are a natural occurrence over time, flashes may be caused by trauma to the retina. They appear as little patches (or flashes) of light usually in your peripheral field of vision, and should prompt you to pay us a visit just to be on the safe side.
It’s common to experience floaters (especially as we get older) and some people are prone to consistent flashes. In either case, if you notice an increase in size, quantity or frequency of either phenomenon then you should make an appointment for an exam with one of our optometrists. This could signal an underlying condition and should be investigated ASAP to rule out any serious problem.
The vitreous is a gel that is contained in the posterior chamber of your eye. As we age, this gel degrades to more of a liquid state combined with small flecks of natural protein. These proteins cast a shadow on your retina and the result is small ‘floating’ shapes which you may notice in your field of vision.
There’s often not much that needs to be done about them as they are usually completely benign and natural! However, if you notice a sudden rise in number or frequency, or they become larger, then you should pay us a visit straight away. This can indicate a severe eye condition, and although it’s unlikely, we want to err on the side of caution and have a good look inside your eyes.
Flashes (photopsia) are caused by the vitreous gel “tugging” on the retina. Since the retina turns light energy into electrical energy which is sent (via the optic nerve) straight to the brain, this stimulus manifests as “visible light” in your field of vision.
Often referred to as “seeing stars”, flashes are quite common following head trauma, like a heavy collision in hockey or if you have a mishap with some downhill mountain biking. It can also be caused by the vitreous tugging on the retina as it shrinks with age.
Flashes can be indicative of a more severe problem, such as retinal tear or detachment, and so any time you experience them, you should contact us immediately for an exam.
585 Springbank Drive
London, ON, Canada
Phone: (519) 472-0210
Monday - Thursday: 8am - 7pm