Flashes and floaters are two symptoms to which you should always pay attention, as both can occur with serious eye emergencies like retinal tears and retinal detachments. At Mile High Retina located in Denver, Colorado, board-certified ophthalmologist and retina surgeon Mark E. Patron, MD can expertly assess your symptoms using specialized diagnostic equipment and advanced retinal imaging. For expert care from a retina specialist, book an appointment online or call either office today.
Flashes and floaters are two signs of changes inside your eye that can also warn of eye conditions that may cause vision loss.
Flashes are bright streaks or sparks that move across your visual field. They can appear when the gel that fills your eye (the vitreous) rubs or pulls on the retina in the back of your eye.
Floaters are small shapes, such as lines, spots, or cobwebs, that drift across your field of vision. These are actually tiny groups of cells floating in your vitreous, casting shadows on your retina. Usually, floaters are most visible when you look at a clear blue sky or at a white surface like a blank wall or computer screen.
Flashes and floaters are not uncommon, especially as you age. But in some cases, they can signify an ocular emergency.
Occasional flashes and floaters are not necessarily an issue. Around age 60, your vitreous starts gradually retracting until it separates from your retina. This is a normal change called posterior vitreous detachment. An increase in flashes and floaters is common during this time.
About 85% of adults have no complications during a posterior vitreous detachment. But it is also possible to experience a vitreous hemorrhage, retinal tear, or retinal detachment that causes a sudden spike in flashes and floaters.
Signs that your flashes or floaters require attention include:
If you have any of the above symptoms, do not delay in contacting Dr. Patron at Mile High Retina for medical attention. When you have new floaters or flashes, a dilated eye exam can allay your worries and give you a jump-start on treating any problems that may occur.
The treatment for flashes and floaters varies with the root cause. Observation with repeat examination may be recommended in cases of symptoms alone with no underlying retinal issue.
More serious retinal problems may be treated with in-office laser procedures or surgery. Vitrectomy surgery, in which Dr. Patron removes the vitreous from your eye, may be an option in the setting of chronic, persistent floaters.
Flashes and floaters usually are not a problem, but the best way to make sure — and get peace of mind about your eyesight — is to reach out to Mile High Retina by phone or online today.