Floaters and Flashes

You may sometimes see small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision. Some people describe them as “hair or mosquitos” floating in the eye. These are called floaters. You can often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall or blue sky. Floaters are actually tiny clumps of material inside the vitreous, the clear, gel-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. Over time, the vitreous gel starts to break apart, leading to floaters.

Sometimes the vitreous gel pulls on the retina, this may cause you to see what look like flashing lights or lightning streaks. These are called flashes. They may appear like “flash inside a camera” or a “shooting start.” The flashes of light can appear off and on for several weeks or months. If you are seeing flashes, you must be examined by your eye doctor to rule out a retinal detachment, which may lead to vision loss. The good news is that a retinal detachment happens rarely, and most symptoms of floaters and flashes subside over time.

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