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Flashes and Floaters in Your Eyes: When to See Your Doctor

Even if you’ve had perfect 20/20 vision your entire life, things can still go wrong with your eyesight as the years go by. Floaters and flashes are a telltale sign that your eye is going through some anatomical changes. 

You might be able to rub your eyes and clear your vision temporarily, but delaying an evaluation with one of our doctors could spell disaster for your eye health and vision.

Drs. Eugene and Stephen Wolchok take every eye concern seriously. That’s why they’re sharing their expert advice on floaters and flashers so you know when to get help. 

Figuring out your floaters

Everyone experiences floaters a little differently. People typically describe them as spider webs, threads, or tiny dark specks drifting across their visual field. 

This vision phenomenon is usually the result of age-related changes in the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside your eyes. The vitreous naturally becomes more liquid as you age. 

As these changes happen, more liquid substance allows microscopic fibers and debris within the vitreous to clump together and cast shadows called floaters on your retina as they drift across your inner eye.

Your retina is the thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of your inner eye. Your lenses focus the light and send it to your retina to be converted into neural signals. Those signals travel along your optic nerve to your brain, which transforms them into visual images.

When anatomical changes compromise your retina, you see those all-too-familiar floaters dancing across your vision. 

Understanding the significance of flashes

If brief flashes of light or lightning-like streaks dart across your vision when you open your eyes, it could indicate that the vitreous gel inside your eye is rubbing or pulling on your retina. 

This undue stress can lead to a retinal tear, which can cause a retinal detachment (when the retina pulls away from the back of your eye) and lead to permanent vision loss.

When to get treatment

A few floaters drifting across your eyes are usually nothing to worry about. We encourage you to make an appointment with one of our doctors if the floaters are new to you, especially if it’s been some time since your last comprehensive eye exam.

An evaluation is necessary if there’s a sudden increase in the number of floaters or you see flashes and floaters together, which may or may not be accompanied by a partial loss of peripheral vision. These symptoms may signal a retinal tear or pending detachment.

Conditions that often cause an increase of floaters or floaters with flashes include:

Any of these conditions can lead to vision loss, but typically respond quite well to treatment, especially when treatment begins early in the course.

Depending on your needs, we offer laser treatment, surgical options, and health management coaching to address your vision problems. 

Ready to see what truly clear vision is like? Come see us for an evaluation. Call our Jacksonville, Florida, office at 904-739-0606, or schedule an appointment online to get started.

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