Have you ever noticed specks drifting across your vision or sudden flashes of light that seem to come out of nowhere? These intriguing phenomena are called eye floaters and flashes, and they’re more common than you might think. In this blog post, our resident ortho-k doctors explore what causes these visual disturbances and when you should be concerned.
Eye floaters are those tiny, seemingly random specks, cobwebs, or squiggly lines that drift across your line of sight, moving as you shift your gaze. Although they can be annoying, eye doctors will tell you that floaters are usually harmless. They’re small pieces of debris or protein that float in the clear, gel-like substance called the vitreous that fills the inside of your eye. When light enters your eye, it casts shadows on the retina, creating the illusion of floaters.
There are several causes of eye floaters, including:
Age-Related Changes in the Vitreous. As you age, the vitreous tends to become more liquid in consistency, causing the gel-like substance to shrink and clump together, which can result in floaters.
Eye Inflammation. Conditions such as uveitis, where the eye’s middle layer becomes inflamed, can increase floaters.
Bleeding in the Eye. Certain eye injuries, diabetic retinopathy or blood vessel problems can cause bleeding in the vitreous, which appears as floaters.
Usually, floaters are just a normal part of the aging process. However, if you suddenly notice a significant increase in the number of floaters or there is pain involved, it’s time to consult an eye doctor.
These brief bursts of light can appear as shimmering, zig-zag lines, similar to a camera flash. Professional eye doctors point to the following as the main causes:
Retinal Detachment. When the retina starts to pull away from the back of the eye, it can tug on the vitreous, causing you to see light flashes. This is serious and requires immediate medical attention, as it can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.
Migraines. People who suffer from migraines may experience light flashes as part of their aura, usually before the headache sets in.
As with floaters, if your eye flashes persist or worsen, you need to visit an eye doctor for evaluation.
Treatment and Prevention
In most cases, eye floaters and flashes don’t require treatment. They typically decrease over time, and the brain learns to ignore them. However, for severe cases or those caused by underlying conditions, medical treatments such as vitrectomy, which involves the removal of the vitreous and replacing it with a saline solution, or laser treatments might be necessary.
If you’re concerned about eye floaters and flashes, Insight Vision Center Optometry can help. We’re the go-to experts for all your vision issues in Costa Mesa, CA, including orthokeratology and dry eye syndrome treatments. Give us a call at (714) 486-3315 to schedule an appointment today. You can also reach us online and we’ll get back to you. We serve Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, and the surrounding CA areas.