Flashes & Floaters
Patients often ask us about floaters; the little dots or wavy lines you may see moving around in your field of vision. Floaters are very common and in most cases, they’re nothing to worry about. Occasionally, they can be a warning sign of something more serious, so it’s good to know what to look out for.
What are floaters?
Floaters may look like wiggly lines or rounded spots, and often seem to move as you try to focus on them. They’re caused by changes to the vitreous – the gel-like substance found in your eyeball. Cells clump together to form strands of collagen that cast a shadow, creating a floater in your vision that you may notice moving across your eyes. After a while, most people become naturally accustomed to them and stop noticing them as much.
Floaters can sometimes be accompanied by flashing lights at the edge of your vision; a little sparkle like fireworks or lightning in the corner of your eye. As we age, the vitreous changes in consistency to become more liquid and detaches from the retina. This is known as vitreous detachment and can cause a flash of light.
Is it serious?
Most cases of floaters and flashes are harmless, but a sudden onset could signify a tear in your retina at the back of your eye. You may also experience gradual shading of your vision from one side, like a curtain being drawn. This is something that needs urgent action before it leads to retinal detachment. A tear can be treated with a laser if it’s caught quickly. If the retina becomes detached, you may notice a rapid decline in central vision and surgery will be needed to treat it, but you may suffer some degree of permanent loss of vision.
Diagnosis with OCT scan
If you’re concerned about flashes or floaters make an appointment to discuss your symptoms. A simple, non-invasive OCT scan will give us an in-depth view of your retina and our optometrist will be able to see if there are any tears or other causes for concern that require immediate treatment.