Flashes / Floaters

What are Floaters?

Floaters look like clouds moving in your vision. You can often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall or blue sky. They are actually tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear gel-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. It seems like these objects are in front of your eye, but they are actually floating inside it. What you see are the shadows they cast on the retina, the layer of cells lining the back of the eye that senses light and allows you to see it.

What causes Flashing Lights?

When the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina, you may see what look like flashing lights or lightning streaks. You may have experienced the same sensation if you have been hit in the eye or head and seen "stars." If you notice the sudden and persistence appearance of flashes, you should contact your ophthalmologist to be sure your retina is intact, without tears or detachments.

Is there a cure and treatment?

Floaters may be a symptom of a tear in the retina, which is a serious problem. If a retinal tear is not treated, the retina may detach from the back of the eye, which would require surgical treatment. Other floaters can be benign and harmlessly fade over time or become less bothersome and require no treatment. Surgery to remove floaters is almost never required.