Flashes and floaters are regularly mentioned in the same breath as one another, however they are quite different in both their significance and symptom. The majority of Americans will experience floaters at some point over the course of their lives; for the most part these are completely benign and do not overly affect one’s vision.
Flashes can be indicative of a more severe underlying condition.
As a natural result of ageing, the vitreous gel towards the back of our eyes evolves into a more liquid state and produces small flecks of natural protein. These proteins are harmless and painless in themselves, however they cast shadows on the retina which are interpreted by the brain as dark spots in front of our vision. You may well have noticed floaters in the past without any detriment to your vision- this is completely normal.
They are caused by a natural change in the vitreous fluid in the eyeball, as opposed to being the result of any specific injury or trauma.
Visit Twin Lakes Vision Clinic for an assessment if you notice floaters for the very first time. For those who are more used to floaters, you should make an appointment with Dr. Mast if you observe any substantial change to the number, size or activity of your floaters. These changes could indicate an underlying problem.
You probably know them as “seeing stars”, the common expression for the bright bursts of light which can interrupt our visual field following an accident. These patches of light sit on top of our vision and can be quite distracting.
Unlike floaters, which are a natural by-product of ageing, flashes are generally induced by some kind of external trauma or internal problem with the eye. More precisely, they are caused by something tugging at the retina; in some scenarios this tugging could be a precursor to retinal detachment, which causes blindness. It is common to experience flashes after a trauma to the head.
Visit our practice for a comprehensive eye exam, diagnosis and discussion about possible treatment options, specific to your case. Experiencing flashes alone does not give any indication of the time frame to which an underlying condition may be working, therefore it is imperative that you schedule an appointment as quickly as possible.