Eye Floaters and Eye Flashes – Are They Normal?

Eye Floaters and Eye Flashes

Floaters and flashes in the eye are a common occurance in many people.  Many people wonder if eye floaters and eye flashes are symptoms of a serious eye condition or if this is just a normal.

Eye flashes and floaters can be explained through understanding the anatomy of the eye.

Between the lens and the retina of the eye is a clear, gel-like substance called the vitreous.  When born, the vitreous has an egg-white consistency and it is firmly attached to the retina.  As we age, the vitreous thins and starts to separate from the back of the eye – a common condition called posterior vitreous detachment or PVD.

As the vitreous pulls from the retina it is often accompanied by what we refer to as eye flashes and eye floaters.  The flashes in the eye occur when the vitreous tugs at the retinal tissue.  Eye floaters occur when bits of gel cast shadows on the retina.

These are normally harmless and does not mean a serious eye condition.  These are natural occrances and it typically associated with and aging eye.  Eye flashes and eye floaters can also be triggered by headaches and bumps on the head.

People have to be aware of more serious eye conditions such as retinal tears, retinal detachments, infections, inflammations and hemmorages.  These can also cause eye floaters and eye flashes.  These serious eye conditions must be treated by eye care professionals immediately.

Should you experience severe symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.  These symptoms of serious eye conditions could include:

  • black spots or “spider webs” in the eye that seem to float in a cluster or alone;
  • Spots in the eye that move or remain suspended in one place;
  • Flickering or flashing lights that are more prominent when looking at a bright background like a clear, blue sky

Symptoms that may indicate a more serious problem with your eyes and should be treated immediately include:

  • Sudden decrease of vision along with eye flashes and eye floaters;
  • Veil or curtain that obstructs part or all of the vision; and
  • Sudden increase in the number of eye floaters.

It is important to know that while eye flashes and eye floaters may be normal, it may be signs of something more serious.  If in doubt, it is your eyes and seek advice from an eye care professional.

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