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Flashers and Floaters

What to look out for with Flashes and Floaters

Flashes and floaters are common eye symptoms that patients may experience over the course of their lifetimes. Flashes of light are seen in the side of the vision in one eye and are often described as looking like lightning streaks. The flashes of light are frequently accompanied by floaters, which are described as spots, specks or clouds that are moving through the field of vision. The floaters are tiny clumps of material inside the vitreous gel, the substance that fills most of the eye. At some point in all of our lifetimes, the vitreous gel will pull away from the wall of the eye, causing flashes of light that can last for weeks to months as well as floaters.

The majority of the time the flashes and floaters are symptoms of a benign process known as a posterior vitreous separation, but these same symptoms can signal a retinal tear or detachment, which requires treatment by an ophthalmologist. Should you experience the new onset of flashes of light or floaters, you should have a dilated examination by an ophthalmologist to make sure no retinal tear or detachment is present. Additionally, should your floaters suddenly change, become red or brown specks, or should you experience any change or shadowing in your side or central vision, the eye should be checked again to make sure a retinal tear or detachment has not developed.

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