Flashes are usually observed as an actual flash in the eye. They usually occur in the corners of the eye, and they are most noticeable when a person moves from a light room into a darkened room.
Floaters are odd shapes or haze that you may see throughout your field of vision. Floaters can look like spiders, cobwebs, spots, or threads. These are the spots that move when you try to look directly at them. Floaters tend to show up when a person looks at a bright object, or when they are staring at a plain background. They can also appear as a haze, as if you’re looking through a screen door or fog.
Floaters are tiny clumps of collagen and proteins that live inside the vitreous humor (also knows as vitreous). Floaters look like they are in front of your eye, but they are actually floating inside the vitreous of the eye, and what you see visually are actually shadows that they cast on the retina.
Vitreous is a clear fluid filling the space between the lens and retina of your eye, of which 99% is water. Vitreous also consists of collagen, proteins, salts, and sugar, giving it a jelly-like consistency. It is vital to helping your eye hold its spherical shape, and the pressure of the vitreous humor helps to keep the retina in place. As you age, the vitreous can shrink and the collagen and proteins can clump or become stringy, causing the phenomenon knows as flashes and floaters.
Flashes and floaters occur because of changes in the vitreous humor. Flashes can show up after a disease of the retina such as sickle cell or diabetic eye disease. Floaters usually occur in people who suffer from nearsightedness. Many of the symptoms for both conditions are similar to each other.
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As the eyes age, the jelly that is in the vitreous humor begins to drift. As it drifts, it can pull on the retina of the eye, the part of the eye that sends signals to the brain. Flashes are actually short signals that the eye initiates internally instead of responding to an external stimulus.
Floaters can occur if there is any serious damage that occurs in the back of the eye. Although the retina will eventually detach from the vitreous humor in most people over the age of 55, retinal tears can make a condition more serious.
As you age, your vitreous shrinks away from the surface of your retina, which has millions of fine fibers on the surface. The fibers can be pulled away as your vitreous shrinks, called a vitreous detachment. Occasionally, a vitreous detachment will cause a tear in the sensitive retinal tissue. Retinal tears are serious and require treatment as they increase your risk of a retinal detachment.
A retinal detachment is a serious medial emergency. It happens when vitreous gel seeps through a retinal tear and causes the retina to peel away. Symptoms of a retinal detachment can be found here. Should you or someone you love suffer from symptoms of a retinal detachment, seek medical help immediately.
The younger you are, the more serious flashes and floaters can potentially be. Because older people have more instances of flashes and floaters naturally, younger people should have the condition evaluated by an eye care professional if it occurs with any regularity. If you have recently received any trauma to the eye and flashes or floaters begin to appear, have your eyes checked immediately.
Contact us at 772-257-8700 to make an appointment to discuss flashes and floaters in your vision.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, or need to schedule an eye exam, contact our World-Class Eye Care™ office today!