Eye Floaters and Flashes

In many cases, eye floaters and flashes is not a serious condition, but if you experience the intensity of the flashes increase, it could be a symptom for other eye conditions. Call or schedule an appointment with us immediately.
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Everett & Hurite Ophthalmic Association

Pittsburgh’s Premier Multi-Specialty Ophthalmologists, serving patients of all ages in the Tri-State area, since 1974!

Some eye issues are practically universal and a great example of this is eye floaters. By the age of 70, most of the population has developed an eye floater at some point. While this condition is not always harmless, it could imply and signify several serious ailments of the eye.

At Everett & Hurite, we take eye floaters very seriously, and we encourage our patients to do the same. It is characterized by sudden changes in vision and it can be frightening. If you notice flashes of light or floating spots in your field of vision, schedule an appointment right away. Online scheduling makes it easy to find an appointment time at one of the 10 offices of Everett & Hurite that fits your schedule.

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FAQs on Eye Floaters:

What are eye floaters?

Eye floaters are spots or tiny shadows or specks in your vision that appears to be floating or moving across your eyes. It would appear to be shifting or darting away if you virtually try to focus on them directly. In the vast majority of cases, eye floaters in all of their forms are benign, and are simply the result of a natural aging process in which flecks of protein and gel shrink and break away from the retina of the eye. 

This process creates tiny shapes or flecks that can begin floating within the gel that fills in the back of the human eye, creating shadows on the retina, which leads to the image of floaters in our field in vision. If you suddenly experience an increase in floaters or if you see flashes of light, it is a good idea to schedule an eye exam immediately.

 

What is causing flashes of light in my vision?

Patients often describe the flashes as sudden instances of bright light on their eyes and it could have a pricking effect. Some patients also describe this condition as swift streaks of light or wavy lines of brightness. When experiencing flashes of light and floaters across the field of vision, most people misinterpret this to be originating from sources outside their body. But in reality, these spots could be originating from either your brain or your eye. 

Changes in your vision caused by dark floaters accompanied by sudden flashes of light can be the outcome of retinal detachment, which is a serious emergency medical condition and without immediate medical intervention, a detached retina can lead to permanent blindness. Occasional floating dark spots and bright light flashes on your eyes are normal and they could occur more frequently as you age. However, both the floating dark spots and bright light flashes are also critical symptoms of other pertinent eye conditions, like:

  • Bleeding in the vitreous gel
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Inflammation 
  • Retinal tears or detachment

Often, cases of eye floaters that present with flashing lights or halos of light are suffering from one of these more serious causes of eye floaters. But this is not a guaranteed sign of trouble, as some benign cases of eye floaters also present with flashing lights - and some severe cases of them do not. In any case, patients are advised to schedule an appointment for an eye exam, if you experience a sudden change in your vision any time and every time. Early detection of an eye condition can make a world of difference for you and help you prevent vision loss. 

 

How can I prevent eye floaters?

While regular eye visits and good eye care may help to prevent the emergency causes of floaters, age-related floaters cannot be prevented. Similarly, treatment options for eye floaters varies depending on the cause. If a serious vision health issue is the underlying cause, treatment of that vision issue will be an essential part of taking care of one’s eye floaters. In the majority cases, however, floaters that are related to natural aging will become less bothersome with time.

Large, aggravating floaters that interfere with a patient’s inability to function, or which fail to improve, may require a consult with a retina specialist. Treatments such as laser or surgery or medication can be used to address the issue, but carry significant risk. Talk with one of our retina specialists before considering such a treatment.

Because the causes and options for treating eye floaters is so heavily dependent on their cause and severity, scheduling an eye appointment immediately after developing an eye floater or multiple new eye floaters in a short time span is a critical part of ensuring your eyes are not being subjected to a serious health problem. Additionally, annual complete eye exams can ensure that patients dealing with serious vision issues can obtain treatment for them, perhaps long before eye floaters begin to develop.

If you notice a floating dark spots or or a sudden increase in the number and intensity of light flashes, it is time to reach out to our eye doctors at Everett & Hurite for an eye exam. Click or call to book your first appointment today.

 

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