Occasionally, you may notice spots or "cobwebs" floating through your field of vision. You might also notice squiggly lines or strings floating by. For some people, flashes in their vision are a recurring problem, while others experience both floaters and flashes. At Eye-Site of Boynton Beach, our optometrists can determine the cause of these visual disturbances and provide you with the appropriate eye care needed to monitor and treat the condition.
Flashes and Floaters Defined
Eye floaters are spots in your vision that may look like cobwebs, specks, strings, or lines. You will notice that they tend to drift, especially when you move your eyes and try to focus on them. Floaters that occur once and a while, and do not increase in number or severity, are generally considered a normal finding. However, new floaters with sudden onset, floaters accompanied by flashes or a "curtain over the vision" may indicate a serious problem that needs to be evaluated as soon as possible.
Flashes on the other hand, occur when you see a bright light that flashes quickly and suddenly. Usually, flashes indicate that there is some type of traction pulling on the layers of the retina in your eye. If you notice new onset flashes, it is important that you call your eye doctor immediately for an evaluation to determine the cause.
The Causes of Flashes and Floaters
You have vitreous fluid inside of your eye to hold its shape. As you age, the gel-like fluid shrinks. It may start to liquify and condense. These condensed pieces of gel may pass over your macula, casting a shadow, which allows you to be able to see them as floaters.
Any traction or pulling on the retina can cause flashes of light in your vision. One example of this is a posterior vitreous detachment. This condition tends to arise as you get older and occurs when your vitreous detaches from your retina. This can cause flashes if it happens too quickly. Retinal tears or detachments occur when part of the retina is pulling off. This is an emergency and should be evaluated/treated as soon as possible.
Diagnosing the Problem
First and foremost, you will need to schedule an eye care appointment with one of our optometrists. The eye doctor will ask you questions about the frequency and duration of the floaters and flashes. The eye doctor will conduct an eye exam to inspect the inside of your eye using a specialized magnifying lens and dilation. The eye exam allows us to look into your eye and see your retina and other portions of your eye. With flashes and floaters, it is important to rule out sight-threatening complications such as a retinal hole, tear or detachment as this can cause blindness.
Depending on the cause of the floaters and flashes, the eye doctor may recommend close observation with regular dilated eye exams, or a referral to an ophthalmologist who specializes in disorders of the vitreous and retina. In the case of a retinal tear or detachment, prompt evaluation and treatment is necessary to save vision.
Get Quality Eye Care in Boynton Beach, FL
Flashes and floaters can be annoying, to say the least. They can also indicate a very serious eye problem. If you live in or around Boynton Beach and you are experiencing flashes or floaters, call our team at Eye-Site of Boynton Beach today at (561) 738-0111 to schedule an eye exam with one of our optometrists.