Flashes and Floaters

Small, semi-transparent specks moving in your field of vision are known as floaters. Most people see a few floaters at one time or another. They may also appear with flashes of light. They can occur more frequently and become more noticeable as you grow older.

Most floaters are normal and rarely cause blindness. But, floaters can be indications of more serious problems, such as a retinal hole, tear, or detachment, and if you have them you should have a comprehensive eye examination to determine the cause. If you notice a sudden change in the number or size of floaters, you should contact Dr. Dubé, optometrist right away.

What causes floaters?

The inner part of your eye is made up of a clear fluid known as the vitreous. Occasionally, small flecks of protein and other matter become trapped in the vitreous during the formation of the eye before birth and remain in the vitreous body. New floaters are caused by the deterioration of the eye fluid or its surrounding structures as we age, or by certain injuries or eye diseases.

What do floaters look like?

Floaters are generally translucent specks of various shapes and sizes. They may also look like bugs, threadlike strands or cobwebs within the eye. Since they are within the eye, they move as the eye moves and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

How are floaters detected?

As part of a comprehensive eye examination, your optometrist will thoroughly evaluate the vitreous and retina of your eyes. They may use eye drops to dilate your pupils to make them larger and will then look inside your eye with instruments called a biomicroscope and an ophthalomoscope to examine the health of the inside of your eyes. Your optometrist will observe the floaters within your eye, as well as ensure that a retina problem has not occurred.

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