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Seeing Floaters And Flashes: Is This An Emergency?

If you are seeing floaters and flashes, you may be wondering if this is an emergency. One could possibly be, and the other is usually not serious. Let’s explain in more detail.

What Are Floaters And Should You Be Worried?

doctor shining light in older man's eye at check-uo

Floaters are typically innocent little black dots or squiggly lines that you can see in your vision, especially if you are looking at a blank background like a white wall or the sky. Sometimes they appear as a cobweb in your vision. They are actually cells floating in the gel-like vitreous, or white part, of your eye, and they become more common as we age.

Floaters can become more noticeable after cataract surgery, if you have an inflammation in your eye like uveitis, are diabetic, are nearsighted, and are older than age 50.

It is always good practice to see Dr. Matthew Hecht if you have additional or suddenly new floaters in your vision. Patients should be more concerned when they are accompanied by flashes of light.

Flashes Are More Concerning

Flashes appear like flashing lights or lightning streaks in your vision. This occurs when the vitreous pulls or rubs on the retina. Occasional flashes are usually not dangerous and are similar to floaters in that they occur as we age. Those who have migraine headaches often experience flashes.

Sometimes, eye flashes can be a symptom of a serious condition, retinal detachment or retinal tear. Detachment happens when the vitreous pulls away from the retina and creates a break allowing vitreous fluid to leak and go behind the retina. This is a serious condition that can cause damage to your vision.

Immediately see Hecht Eye Institute if the following occurs:

  • Persistent flashes
  • Loss of peripheral (side) vision
  • Vision seems to covered by a curtain
  • More large floaters or a “shower” of floaters appear

This combination of floaters and flashes is an emergency.

Request an Appointment

If you experience these symptoms, don’t delay making an appointment with Hecht Eye Institute in Southern California as soon as possible for an evaluation and treatment. Call one of our four locations to schedule today.

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Schedule your appointment with Dr. Hecht and be on your way to better eye health!