Floaters and flashes in your field of vision may become more common with age. While they are not usually a cause for concern, they can be an indicator of or contribute to retina problems, including retinal detachment. Also, large or numerous floaters and flashes can be bothersome.

The eye doctors at California Retina Associates specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of retina-related vision conditions. If you experience a sudden onset of floaters and flashes or notice an increase in the size of eye floaters and flashes, please call us at (619) 425-7755 or (760) 352-7755 to schedule an exam. Our retina specialists welcome patients with floaters or flashes from San Diego and all surrounding areas.

Understanding Floaters

Floaters may look like specks, cobwebs or squiggly lines that drift through your field of vision. They are especially noticeable when looking at a static background, and they may appear to move constantly. Floaters do not follow your exact eye movements and they may appear to dart away if you attempt to look directly at them.

Floaters are tiny clumps of fibers in the gel-like vitreous fluid in the back of your eye. With age, this fluid can change in consistency, shrinking and becoming stringy. The strands can cast shadows on the retina, and these shadows are what you are actually seeing.

Although floaters are usually harmless, they can be annoying. And, in some cases, a sudden increase in floaters can indicate retinal detachment, meaning a part of the retina has pulled away from its normal position against the back wall of the eye.

Understanding Flashes

Flashes may accompany these floaters and appear as small streaks of lightning, jagged lines or heat waves; vision flashes are often more noticeable in the dark. They usually appear at the side (periphery) of the visual field.

Like floaters, flashes of light occur when the vitreous gel shrinks and becomes stringy, pulling on the retina. A sudden increase in flashes of light, or flashes in conjunction with floaters or other vision changes may be a symptom of a retinal tear, which if left untreated, can increase the risk of retinal detachment.

When Floaters or Flashes Indicate a Retina Problem

Although floaters and flashes are often harmless, you should contact our experienced eye doctors if you notice any of the following:

  • Floaters and flashes of increased numbers and intensity
  • Floaters and flashes along with darkness on the edges of your peripheral vision
  • Floaters and flashes accompanied by a decline in your central vision

These may be symptoms of vitreous detachment or a retinal tear that could lead to retinal detachment. You should be examined and treated immediately if something is wrong, to avoid permanent vision loss.

Retinal problems in which floaters and flashes appear are often treatable with an outpatient laser procedure. However, the best treatment option for you will depend on a number of individual factors, including the source and severity of your condition.

Floaters and Flashes in San Diego

To schedule a vision exam and screening with one of our renowned retina specialists, please contact California Retina Associates today. We welcome patients from the San Diego area and beyond.