A floater is a tiny black spot, squiggly line, thread, or cobweb that you may notice in your vision. Floaters typically appear with age, or if you have a high minus prescription, this may cause you to see them sooner. Flashes in your vision are bright spots or small pinpoints of light in your vision.
Where do these floaters come from? Vitreous is the jelly portion of our eyes, responsible for maintaining eye structure and pressure. As we age, this jelly portion becomes more liquefied and the proteins within the vitreous start to clump together, so that now when light enters the eye, it casts a shadow, and that's what makes us see these floaters. Thus, in most cases, it's not that serious of a health concern unless it is happening more frequently or with more intensity. You may not even notice these floaters unless you look against a white background or if you look up into the sky.
It is also possible for the vitreous to pull at the retina as we age, which causes a phenomenon called flashes. Light flashes can appear intermittently which can last for weeks or months.
Usually, an eye doctor will just observe your flashes and floaters to ensure that nothing is going on that is more concerning. However, it is more concerning if the floaters increase in size or amount, or if they are associated with any flashes of light that require immediate attention. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should visit our office for an emergency eye exam right away. because this may indicate something is happening in the back part of the eye, which may be sight-threatening.
One of the causes of flashes and floaters is posterior vitreous detachment. You experience this when the jelly portion inside your eye separates from the back part of your eye, which is normal. It is also important to ensure that when the vitreous detached from the back of the eye, it did not pull a piece of the retina along with it, resulting in a possible hole, tear, or retinal detachment. A retinal detachment is much more concerning since it can permanently reduce your vision, so you may need to be referred to a retinal specialist right away to laser off any rip or tear that happened there so that there is no further progression and worsening of your vision.
Floaters are most often not treated as they are generally harmless and end up becoming less bothersome with time. Floaters can be removed surgically with vitrectomy or laser surgery, but these procedures come with risks, so most people do not have them treated. Flashes are also frequently untreated, but just like floaters, if they occur due to an underlying condition, then it is treated. Whenever flashes occur as a result of a migraine, your doctor will provide you with the best migraine treatment plan. This condition demands immediate attention if you are experiencing flashes and floaters as a result of retinal detachment. Surgical procedures are available for treating retinal detachment, and there are several effective methods.