Any interruptions to your vision can be scary. After all, you need your eyesight to drive, work, walk, and live your life normally. So when you start seeing lights or objects interrupting your vision that you know aren’t there, you might start to worry. 

Flashes and floaters are common instances that disrupt your vision. These tiny impositions can cause serious distractions. Most of the time, if you experience either of these, you have nothing to fear. But there are instances in which flashes and floaters can be an indication of a more significant problem like retinal tears or detachment. For that reason, it’s best to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist.


What Are Floaters?

Floaters are tiny circles, dots, lines, or specks that cloud your field of vision. To you, it looks like they are in front of your eye, but really, they are floating inside of it. 

These are tiny clumps of cells inside the vitreous of your eye. These clumps cast a shadow on your retina, which is what causes you to see these obstructions. 

You may not notice these all the time. In fact, you are most likely to see the floaters when you are looking at something plain such as a blank wall or sheet of paper. 

What Are Common Causes of Floaters?

  • Nearsightedness 
  • Inflammation inside your eye 
  • Past surgery for cataracts 
  • Age

How Are Floaters Treated?

In most cases, floaters fade or disappear on their own. These are a result of posterior vitreous detachment. This only means that the vitreous is pulling away from the back of your eye. It tends to happen with age but is not a serious cause for concern. 

In more severe cases, you can have surgery to remove the floaters. For the most part, floaters are not severe enough to warrant an operation. 

What Are Flashes? 

Flashes are streaks of lightning or flashing lights that disrupt your vision. Some people refer to this as seeing stars. 

What Are Common Causes of Flashes? 

  • Injury to the eye 
  • Pressure applied to the eye 
  • Age 
  • Migraines

Sometimes flashes are caused by migraines. These can affect one or both eyes and last for up to 20 minutes. 

Two different types of migraines are accompanied by flashes: migraine headache and ophthalmic migraine. A migraine headache is simply a headache that follows the flashes. Migraines are a result of spasms in the blood vessels in the brain. An ophthalmic migraine is when you only see flashes, but you don’t have a headache. 

How Are Flashes Treated? 

As with floaters, in most cases, flashes are nothing to cause worry. When they are occasional or do not impede your vision, you can simply wait for them to pass. 

There are cases in which you should seek treatment. If any of these instances happen, you should schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist right away. 

  • A lot of flashes
  • New floaters
  • A shadow in your peripheral vision
  • A gray curtain that covers your vision

If you experience these symptoms, you may have a torn or detached retina. This condition will not resolve itself and must be treated by an ophthalmologist. 

Traverse City Eye Doctor for Eye Floaters

If eye flashes and floaters are seriously affecting your vision or are becoming frequent occurrences, it’s best to have your eyes examined by an eye doctor in Traverse City. Even if these instances seem relatively harmless, any abnormalities that occur for a significant length of time should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. 

If you’re experiencing symptoms of severe flashes and floaters, or if you want to learn more about them, schedule an appointment with our office. 

For any other eye-related concerns, please call us to schedule an appointment or speak with a professional. 

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