What Are Flashes and Floaters?
Although flashes and floaters typically increase with age, they can affect patients of all ages. Your eye is filled with a vitreous gel, which can loosen and shift within your eye, casting shadows over your visual field and creating floaters. At times, the loosened vitreous fluid pulls on the retina, stimulating the retinal nerves, creating bursts of light in isolated areas or throughout the visual field.
When Do They Indicate a Serious Problem?
When vitreous cells come loose, it can result in a retinal tear or detachment. This can potentially cause blindness. Retinal tear sufferers may experience:
- Flashes and floaters
- Darkening of peripheral vision
- Vision shifting to one side
- Swift loss of fine, detailed vision
Additionally, floaters are sometimes caused by droplets of blood drifting across the visual field. This could indicate several different eye disorders.
When you visit Fishman & Sheridan eyeCare Specialists for flashes and floaters, your doctor will conduct a slit lamp exam. After dilating your pupil, he will use a special microscope to look through your eye and examine your retina. He may also use special photographic equipment to take pictures of your retina and look for the presence of abnormal blood vessels.
Treatment for Flashes and Floaters
If your doctor does not discover any retinal damage, there is typically no treatment for flashes and floaters. When flashes and floaters are symptoms of a retinal tear, it is vital that you receive immediate care to prevent permanent vision loss. There are several proven treatment options, including:
- Laser therapy or cryotherapy (freezing treatment): These quick procedures can seal the retina to the back of the eye with minimal discomfort.
- Pneumatic retinopexy: Your doctor can create a small gas bubble inside your eye that pushes the retina back in place and allows the tissues to heal.
- Vitrectomy: This is the most aggressive form of torn retina treatment. It involves the removal of the loose vitreous.
At our practice, we take a conservative approach to eye care and will always begin with minimally invasive treatments before exploring more invasive options.
Schedule Your Exam Today
Flashes and floaters are typically harmless, but you should undergo a thorough exam when symptoms suddenly appear or change. If you are concerned about your vision, or if you need to establish ongoing care, schedule an appointment with Fishman & Sheridan eyeCare Specialists today.