Floaters/Flashing Lights Assessment
What are Eye Floaters?
Shapes or shadows drifting across people’s vision are known as floaters. There are different forms and sources of these floaters, such as small dots or irregular strands.
Floaters are generally harmless and can become less noticeable over time, but they can also indicate serious conditions. In some cases, floating is an indication of serious eye conditions, especially when it is associated with flashes of light.
You have a clear, jelly-like substance known as vitreous humor inside the hollow space in the middle of your eyeball. Vitreous ages and liquefies, becoming less firm and displaying strands of a protein called collagen. When the eye moves, these strands swirl gently.
Floaters may be the results of a number of things including:
- Cataract surgery
- Eye disease
- Eye injury
You should only seek eye floaters treatment if they start to affect your vision. If this is the case, you should consult an optometrist or visit your GP. They will be able to check your eyes to see if you require further treatment or tests.
Eye conditions related to floaters in the eye
-Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)
As the eye ages, it is common for the posterior vitreous to detach from the posterior capsule, causing posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Around 75% of people over 65 suffer from PVD.
Eye floaters and flashing lights can occur as a result of PVD
-Retinal tears and vitreous hemorrhage
In approximately half of all people, the vitreous humour has separated from the retina by the time they are 60. Most people aren’t even aware that this happens, and it usually doesn’t cause any problems.
It has been reported that, in a few cases of PVD, the vitreous humor can pull on the retina and cause the tiny blood vessels on the surface to burst and bleed into the vitreous. It is possible to see the red blood cells as tiny black dots or as smoke.
PVD can result in strong adhesions between the vitreous humor and retina in rare cases. These points of attachment can lead to tears in the retina as the vitreous pulls away. Retinal tears can be associated with bleeding (seen as a ‘shower’ of dots or flies), increase in floaters in the eye and, flashes of bright, white light in your vision that look a little like lightning streaks.
If you have these symptoms you need to see your eye specialist and have those retinal tears excluded, if there is a tear present it needs urgent retinal laser surgery.
If you have retinal tears, urgent treatment is needed as tears can lead to retinal detachment. When the retina separates from the wall at the back of the eye, retinal detachment occurs. This can lead to damaging your sight. Urgent surgery or retinal laser treatment is required to rectify retinal detachments.