Janigian Retina Associates - AMD Center of Excellence Award

Flashes and Floaters

Floaters appear as small particles, specks or lines that float across your field of vision. They can often be recognized when looking at flat, light-colored surfaces. While floaters are harmless, they can be a sign of posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) which occurs when the vitreous, a jelly-like substance that fills the back of the eye, starts to shrink away from the retina.

You are more likely to see floaters in your vision if you are nearsighted, have had cataract surgery or experienced trauma to the eye. In most cases, this is a normal aging process of the eye and causes no threat to your vision. In some instances however, floaters and flashes can be a sign of a hemorrhage in the eye, a retinal tear or retinal detachment. These are emergent, vision threatening conditions and for this reason, you should see an ophthalmologist immediately if you experience flashes and floaters.

Flashes are often described as seeing streaks of light or smudges across your field of sight. Similar to floaters, flashes are usually not serious and occur when the vitreous pulls away from the retina. Flashes can also be associated with migraines with or without headache.

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