Flashes and Floaters - Causes and Treatments
Eye floaters are specks or small spots moving in your field of vision. They may appear in different shapes, such as ring-shaped, cobweb, black or grey spots, threadlike strands, or squiggly lines. Floaters may become more noticeable when looking at a plain background, such as a blank wall.Many of our Los Angeles eye care patients mistake floaters for dust or insects in the air. Unlike dust or insects, floaters move where your eye moves. Sometimes patients will experience flashes in conjunction with floaters. As their name suggests, flashes are simply flashing light sensations in the eye. Flashes are most commonly seen in periods of low light, but may also be seen in sunlight. The appearance of flashes and floaters are actually the shadow they cast upon the retina. Because of this, flashes and floaters appear to occur on the front of the eye. Flashes and floaters are common among patients 50 years of age and older, but patients of any age may experience them.
Causes of Flashes and Floaters
For many of our eye patients in Los Angeles, flashes and floaters are harmless. With that being said, it is impossible to determine the cause of flashes and floaters without first undergoing a comprehensive eye examination. Flashes that appear as jagged lines are usually caused by a migraine headache. These types of flashes may also occur without a headache. When this happens, it is called an ophthalmic migraine.
The shrinking of vitreous within the eye results in flashes and floaters. The most common cause of floaters is age and nearsightedness. Cataract surgery, diabetic retinopathy, intraocular tumors, injury to the eye, and eye diseases may all cause flashes and floaters to develop. Flashes and floaters may be caused a detached retina, a tear in the retina, detachment of the vitreous, bleeding of the vitreous, and inflammation of the vitreous or retina. Age-related macular degeneration is a common cause of blindness among men and women 55 years and older in the United States today. Because the main symptom experienced by our Los Angeles macular degeneration patients is floaters, it is especially important to take the appearance of floaters seriously.
For the majority of patients, flashes and floaters will diminish over time. Because of this, and because most floaters are benign, many patients will not require treatment for flashes and floaters. If flashes and floaters are caused by a more serious eye condition, such as macular degeneration, or is too bothersome, a vitrectomy may be recommended. The more rare risks associated with vitrectomy are tears within the retina or the detachment of the retina. More commonly, patients develop cataracts months or years after surgery. During the vitrectomy procedure, the vitreous and any debris found within the vitreous are removed and replaced with a salt solution.
Learn More about Flashes and Floaters
To learn more about causes and treatments of flashes and floaters, please contact Retina Vitreous Consultants today. We would be pleased to answer any questions you might have about this treatment and to schedule you an appointment at our state-of-the-art office.