Eye flashers and eye floaters, those tiny dots and lines are things we all see and have experienced.
The question is whether they’re harmless or pose a serious threat to our vision. Indeed, this can turn out to be a cause for concern as we get older.
Eye flashers, look like streaks of lightning and are more common as we get older. Most of the time, neither floaters nor flashers are cause for worry. But under certain circumstances, they do require immediate medical attention.
Flashers are different. They can look like arcs or small streaks, and come and go very quickly, sometimes just at the corner of the eye. They’re more noticeable in the dark, so people may not be aware of them during the day.
Floaters can appear as rings, whips, sheets, squiggles or other patterns. They look like they’re in front of the eye, but they are actually floating inside it.
Floaters tend to move as the eye moves. For example, moving up when the eye moves up and settling downward when the eyes are still.
They’re easier to see on a uniform background (a white wall or a blue sky), or after doing activities that require frequent and quick side-to-side or up-and-down movements, such as driving or reading.
Eye Flashers: Causes
Flashes are caused by normal age-related changes in the vitreous, the gel structure that fills the back of the eye and keeps the eye round.
The vitreous has a gel-like consistency. As you age, it becomes more liquid and strands form together and move through the light pathway in front of the retina. You see them as floating spots, and in most cases they’re harmless.
After age 50, floaters or flashers can be signs of the vitreous separating from the back of the eye. This does result in many more and larger floaters. Again, this is not a serious issue.
Very nearsighted people are at higher risk for floaters and flashers. Nearsighted people have eyes that are longer than average. Consequently, the vitreous gel fills a larger space and increases development of floating strands.
Diabetics are also at high risk because they may have bleeding in the retina, which will manifest itself as floaters.
Trauma such as a hard impact on the eye can cause a posterior vitreous detachment or a tear. In addition, eye surgery, such as cataract surgery can also cause a tear. In this instance you will see flashers and floaters.
Eye Flashers: Get Tested
If you experience flashers or floaters, get tested, especially if you see a dramatic increase in the numbers or a sudden onset. It might be caused by either a retinal tear or retinal detachment. It’s important to see your eye doctor immediately.
Drops will be placed into each eye to widen the pupils and allow extra light to enter for a clearer view. The retina and optic nerve are carefully examined for tears or a detachment.
Eye Flashers: Treatments
Retinal tears that are caught early can be repaired with a laser procedure on an outpatient basis.
With a retinal detachment, the retina separates from the back wall of the eye.This is an emergency situation and requires prompt attention. If you wait, you could lose your vision in that eye.
Acting quickly can save your eyesight. Retinal detachment surgery has a 90% success rate.