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What Causes Flashers and Floaters?

It’s hard not to think the worst when you start noticing changes in your health. This is especially true when your vision is suddenly under attack from strange shapes and spots. 

But what’s causing them, and what do they say about your eye health?

Our team of expert ophthalmologists at Wolchok Eye Associates are here to answer all your questions about flashers and floaters. Here’s what you should know about these common, yet  often misunderstood visual disturbances. 

A closer look at flashers and floaters

Flashers and floaters are small particles that move across your field of vision. Most often they’re the result of age-related changes to the vitreous body in your eye. In fact, these visual disturbances are common in older adults, impacting the majority of adults by the time they reach their 70s.

The vitreous body is a jellylike substance that fills most of your eye and is responsible for maintaining the shape of your eye as well as absorbing shock and keeping the retina properly connected to the back wall of your eye. The vitreous body is also where light passes through on its way to your retina. 

As you age, the vitreous body in your eye gradually shrinks, allowing more liquid to accumulate and small clumps of fibers to accumulate. The shadows from those fiber clumps are the floaters you see zooming across your vision field. 

Other causes and risk factors of floaters include:

Flashers, which are bright spots of light in your visions, often accompany floaters and can be a sign that you have:

Though changes in your vision can be frightening, they’re not always a warning sign of a serious condition. 

When flashers and floaters are a concern

In most cases, flashers and floaters are nothing to worry about, and, often, they resolve on their own, only happen sporadically, and don’t interfere with your vision. But there are times when the vitreous slowly pulls away from the retinal surface, leading to a condition called vitreous detachment. 

Vitreous detachment is usually not a cause for concern, but you should still make an appointment with us. 

In some cases, vitreous detachment is severe and results in a significant tear or break, known as retinal detachment. This condition can be serious and rob you of your vision; it’s considered a medical emergency.

Retinal tears and detachment occur without pain, so it’s important to know the warning signs. See us immediately if you notice:

If you notice a gradual graying or shading of your vision, like the sun setting in the middle of the day, it’s another sign you should see one of our experts.

How we treat flashers and floaters

Most floaters and flashers are mild, harmless, and present just an occasional nuisance, so they don’t require treatment. But you should always make an appointment with our eye care professionals at Wolchok Eye Associates if you notice them because they could be severely hindering your vision or part of a larger eye health problem. 

If we catch a retinal hole or tear early, we can treat it before it leads to retinal detachment. Retinal tears and holes are treated with laser treatment or surgical procedure. We also equip you with some health management strategies to support healthy eyes and avoid complications.

Have more questions about your vision? Request an appointment online or call our Jacksonville, Florida, office today.

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