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Floaters And Flashes

Causes & Treatment Options

Have you ever seen small specks, flashes or clouds moving in your field of vision? Long Vision Center is here so you can find out more about what's going on inside your eye.

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Floaters could be the reason behind specks and cloud like objects when you are looking at a blank wall or a totally blue sky. This condition is more common that you think, and is actually tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous which is the clear gel like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. Although the floaters appear to be in front of the eye, they are actually floating in the vitreous fluid inside the eye.

While these objects look like they are in front of your eye, they are actually floating inside it. What you see are the shadows they cast on the retina, the layer of cells lining the back of the eye that senses light and allows you to see. Floaters can appear as different shapes such as little dots, circles, lines, clouds, or cobwebs.

What Causes Floaters?

When people reach middle age, the vitreous gel may start to thicken or shrink, forming clumps or strands inside the eye. The vitreous gel pulls away from the back wall of the eye, causing a posterior vitreous detachment. This is a common cause of floaters.

Posterior vitreous detachment is more common in people who are nearsighted, have undergone cataract operations, have had YAG laser surgery of the eye, or have had inflammation inside the eye.

The appearance of floaters may be alarming, especially if they develop very suddenly. You should contact our office right away if you develop new floaters, especially if you are over 45 years of age.

Are Floaters Ever Serious?

The retina can tear if the shrinking vitreous gel pulls away from the wall of the eye. This sometime causes a small amount of bleeding in eye that may appear as new floaters.

A torn retina is always a serious problem, since it can lead to a retinal detachment. You should make an appointment with one of our doctors as soon as possible if even one new floater appears suddenly; or you see sudden flashes of light.

If you notice other symptoms, like the loss of side vision, you should make an appointment just to make sure nothing is wrong. The appearance of floaters may be alarming, especially if they develop very suddenly. You should contact us here at the Long Vision Center clinic in Sherman right away; especially if you are over 45 years of age.

What Causes Flashing Lights?

When the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina, you may see what look like flashing lights or lightning streaks. You may have experienced this same sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and see "stars".

The flashes of light can appear off and on for several weeks or months. As we grow older, it is more common to experience flashes. If you notice the sudden appearance of light flashes, you should contact your ophthalmologist immediately in case the retina has been torn.


Some people experience flashes of light that appear as jagged lines or "heat waves" in both eyes, often lasting 10 - 20 minutes. These types of flashes are usually caused by a spasm of blood vessels in the brain, which is called a migraine.

If a headache follows the flashes, it is called a migraine headache. However, jagged lines or "heat waves" can occur without a headache. In this case, the light flashes are called ophthalmic migraine, or migraine without headache.

If you experience these types of symptoms, please call the Long Vision Center and schedule an appointment.

How Are Your Eyes Examined?

When an eye care professional examines your eyes, your pupils may be dilated with eye drops. During this painless examination, your ophthalmologist will careful observe areas of your eye, including the retina and vitreous. If your eyes have been dilated, you will need to make arrangements for someone to drive you home afterward.

Floaters and flashes of light become more common as we grow older. While not all floaters and flashes are serious, you should always have a medical eye examination by an experienced eye care professional to make sure there has been no damage to your retina.

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