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Although most flashes and floaters occur in people with healthy or merely nearsighted eyes, they can be symptoms of a serious problem including injury and retinal or posterior vitreous detachments.

Flashes in vision are caused by pressure on the retina—the bundle of nerves in the back of the eye where images are detected and transmitted to the brain, causing patients to experience flashing lights or lightning streaks in their vision.

What are floaters?

The word “floaters” is a somewhat colloquial reference to spots that interrupt the field of vision, or simply appear within it as a nuisance often noticed under certain conditions such as when in a brightly lit space, or out on a sunny day. Floaters are spots, cobwebs, lines, and other shapes that appear in the field of view, float around and are annoying and bothersome and are sometimes accompanied by light flashes (lightening, sparks) in the center or periphery.

New York Laser Vision

Why am I seeing floaters?

Over time, the vitreous gel that fills the void between the lens and retina of our eyeball, called the “vitreous body,” “vitreous humor,” or simply “the vitreous,” becomes more liquid and begins to clump up, becomes more noticeable as one looks out through their eye.

The clumps that form within the vitreous produce shadows that, when reflected on the retina, become visible to us.

What causes floaters?

Conditions that can cause floaters to appear in or fill up the field of vision include:

  • Older age
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • A history of eye surgery (such as having had cataract surgery)
  • Retinal problems, including detachment or bleeding
  • Diabetes
  • Eye injury or trauma
smiling woman with glasses and gray shirt posing for a picture

When should you see an eye doctor for floaters?

If this is your first time seeing or noticing floaters in your vision, please schedule an appointment at our offices within 1 week.

However, if the floaters are accompanied by flashes of light, that condition could indicate retinal problems, and you should schedule an appointment within the next 1-2 days. Simply tell our office what is occurring, and we will accommodate your visit. Early treatment of the condition is important to prevent further deterioration.

If you have previously noticed a bout of light flashes but are just now becoming apprised of their potential severity, don’t fret, as we can still do something about it, but please schedule your visit immediately.

Serious vision loss can occur if the retina or vitreous detach from the eye wall, so patients experiencing flashes and floaters should contact their doctor immediately so an examination can be performed.

Our approach to floaters at New York Laser Vision in Brooklyn & Manhattan

  1. Proper diagnosis
  2. Treatment when necessary
  3. Recommending a proper antioxidant rich and antiinflammatory diet, as floaters represent a degeneration of the vitreous body, which is more pronounced when hyaluronic acid breaks down. This process occurs faster in cases of oxidative stress.
  4. Offering supplements to enhance eye health and prevent premature eye aging.
New York Laser Vision

How are floaters treated?

One of our doctors will perform a full examination that involves safely dilating the eyes to ensure the retina is still intact and there is no threat to vision. Additionally, unique to New York Laser Vision, we will perform a highly specialized ultrasound of the eyes to diagnose the condition more properly and make sure everything is okay.

The exact treatment done for floaters will vary from patient to patient, it being tailored to the severity of the condition. The tests we conduct, mentioned above, will help us establish the correct course of treatment. Treatment typically includes:

  • Ensuring floaters are not associated with a risk of vision problems
  • The body treats floaters by breaking them apart into smaller pieces. These floaters then settle to the bottom of the vitreous and become less noticeable, and the brain adapts and stops noticing them.
  • Occasionally, if your vision is affected or the condition is severe, we may offer laser or surgery. This, however, is quite rare.

For more information, please visit our article, “I Am Seeing Flying Spots – Am I Imagining Things?

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