Flashers & Floaters

'Flashes and Floaters': Vitreous/Retinal Detachment

The eye is filled with a jelly-like material called vitreous that shrinks and condenses over our lifetime and can pull away from its attachment at the retina. Once free, the jelly can float freely in our vision (noted by many as 'floating spots' or 'eye spots'). This is a normal occurrence that happens with advancing age and usually has no adverse consequences. The vitreous, while pulling away from the retina, is sometimes noticed by the patient as 'flashing lights' in the vision.

In some cases, as the jelly pulls away from the retina, a small tear can develop. This tear (not noticed/known by the patient) can begin to spread and separate from the retina and turn into a visually devastating retinal detachment.

Retinal Detachments are serious occurrences that can happen to an eye for various reasons. They can be caused by trauma, high nearsightedness, vitreous detachments, and other retinal pathology. Retinal detachments can begin as dramatic as a loss of vision, resembling a curtain moving over the eye, or as subtle as flashing lights and/or floating spots. Because retinal detachments often lead to blindness if not treated, it is imperative with the onset of any new flashing lights or floating spots, to be seen immediately in our office to make sure the simple vitreous detachment did not tear the retina.

Treatment of retinal detachments may involve a laser, gas bubble in the eye, a band around the eye, and/or removal of the vitreous gel that fills the back of the eye.

retinal detachment

View Video