Eye Floaters and Flashers Can Disrupt Vision


When staring into space, you may notice floating specks, cobwebs, threads or small flickers of light that appear in your vision. Should you be alarmed? Not necessarily, report professionals at Harvard Medical School. For many people, these floaters and flashers are a common occurrence. But if they appear suddenly and in large quantities, they may be signs of a serious vision problem.

Identifying floaters
The National Institutes of Health reports that 70 percent of people regularly detect floaters in their vision. The floaters are usually small and move quickly out of your line of vision. If the floaters are large, occur frequently or vision is unclear, immediately contact your eye doctor to see if you have a torn or detached retina. If a detached retina is not treated promptly, permanent loss of vision may occur.

Detecting flashers
Flashes of light frequently accompany floaters. They are usually visible at night or in the dark, and are similar to seeing stars after bumping your head. Medical professionals report that flashers occur when blood vessels in the brain suddenly spasm, which can also cause headaches or migraines.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes floaters as small clumps of cells in the gel fluid inside the eye, called the vitreous. The floaters appear to be on the eye, but are actually inside the vitreous. They create shadows on the retina forming different shapes, such as cobwebs, threads or specks.

Sometimes the vitreous gel pulls on the retina, creating streaks or flashes of light. They may be visible for several weeks or months. As we age, floaters and flashers occur more frequently. The vitreous gel may tug on blood vessels in the eye, causing the vessels to hemorrhage and you may see tiny black dots. The dots gradually disappear as the body soaks up the liquid.