Eye Floaters and Flashes of Light: Causes and Treatment
Mr Tariq Ayoub - 26 Oct 2021
Have you experienced dark shapes or flashes of light over your vision?
Eye floaters and flashes of light are likely to increase as you age and are completely normal. Though there are circumstances when you should get these checked by a specialist.
Read on to learn the causes of eye floaters and flashes of light, the treatment, and when you should seek medical assistance.
What are eye floaters and flashes of light?
Eye floaters may appear as small dots, squiggly lines, rings or cobwebs. If you blink, they will still be there, though they may become easy to ignore.
Flashes are flashes of light, similar to camera flashes, over your vision. You may experience floaters alongside flashes of light, or separately.
Book an appointment if either of these appears or increases in numbers suddenly, or impacts your vision.
What causes eye floaters and flashes of light?
The most common cause of eye floaters is age. The gel inside your eye (the vitreous) shrinks as you age. The vitreous moves around in the eye as it is more mobile which can be seen as floaters.
The vitreous gel bumping or tugging against the retina of your eye can cause flashes of light. Persistent flashing lights associated with an increase in floaters may be a sign of a retinal tear or retinal detachment.
Flashing lights are more common if you suffer from migraines, and is usually associated with headaches.
If you are experiencing floaters and flashes of light, we recommend booking a consultation with an eye care professional.
You are more likely to experience floaters if you:
- Are nearsighted (Myopia)
- Are over 50
- Have diabetes
- You’ve had eye problems in the past, including eye surgery
Eye floaters can be a sign of a retinal tear or a retina detachment. It’s hard to know the cause yourself, so you should seek the advice of an eye care specialist. Retinal detachment and tear can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.
Blood in your eye can also cause eye floaters. This is less common, though you are more likely to experience this if you have diabetes.
If you are experiencing eye floaters, you should get your eye checked regularly to monitor the shrinkage of your vitreous and prevent serious eye problems later on.
Floaters can be removed surgically, though this is not usually necessary. Moving your eyes by looking up and down or left and right can help shift the floater to a less annoying position.
If your eye floaters and flashes are caused by a retinal detachment or retinal tear, you may require urgent treatment. A retinal tear can usually be treated with laser (laser retinopexy). Retinal detachment is treated by surgery – the type of surgery is dependent on various factors including size, duration and location of the detachment.
It’s best to confirm eye floaters with an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) to rule out more serious causes such as retinal tear or detachment which can be sight-threatening.
At your consultation we will:
- Ask you questions about your symptoms to see how long you’ve had them and how often
- Examine your eyes to check for eye floaters
- Check for any signs of more serious causes
- Talk you through our findings and recommend treatment options where necessary
Book an appointment
If you are experiencing eye floaters or flashes of light, book an appointment today to find out what is causing your symptoms.
Oculase is your local eye specialist in London and Birmingham, with clinics in both locations for your convenience.
Our lead eye surgeon, Mr Tariq Ayoub, will ask about your medical history and carry out a complete assessment of your eyes to find out what is causing your eye floaters and flashes of light.
Watch this video to meet your eye surgeon: