What are Flashes and Floaters?
Flashes and floaters are a typical but irritating condition that happens to many women and men as they start to age. Typically, this condition is not indicative of something worse, but we still recommend having your eyes assessed by one of our skilled eye doctors. Patients with floaters generally see them while looking at a light, white background, such as a computer screen. Floaters appear as small flecks or tiny curls that move throughout your eyesight. These floaters are small pieces of vitreous gel that have collected together. Further, flashes look like “lightning bolts,” which you tend to experience when you stand up too fast. Over time, flashes can start to become noticeable and appear like flashing lights. This visual symptom is triggered by your retina being pulled on by the vitreous gel instead of your eye.
If you unexpectedly start to notice flashes or floaters or they have started getting worse, it’s imperative to have your eyes examined by one of our board-certified ophthalmologists. At Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley in San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA, our team is excited to offer a range of advanced vision services to the Encino and West Hills communities.
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what are the symptoms of flashes and floaters?
Although flashes and floaters occur at any age and for many people, they often become worse with age. This condition is not generally a sign of a more severe condition. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, please give us a call at our Encino or West Hills office. Flashes and floaters symptoms include:
- Decline of peripheral vision
- Frequent flashes of light
- Appearance of recent, large floater
- Sudden “shaded” vision, which temporarily darkens field of sight
- Increase in floaters or flecks of spots
what causes flashes and floaters?
As we start to age, flashes and floaters happen because the vitreous fluid between your lens and the retina starts to congeal and shrivel, which creates clumping. When the fluid becomes too clumpy, it can create floaters or dark lines that cast shade onto the retina. If you experience flashes, these happen because the vitreous membrane becomes smaller in size and begins to tug on the retina. The nerve cells within the retina react to the pulling, which creates the flashes. In some cases, refractive surgeries, like LASIK, may cause an increase in floaters; however, this is generally not related to a more serious condition. Additionally, if you experienced an injury or trauma to the eye, you may notice an increase in floaters and flashes. No matter the cause and if you notice an increase in these types of visual effects, our team at Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley in San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA can help you create a treatment plan.
- Additional causes of floaters, specifically, could include:
- Inflammation due to infection or autoimmune disorder
- Bleeding in the eye caused by diabetic retinopathy, high blood pressure, blocked blood vessels, or trauma
- Retinal detachment
- Severe nearsightedness
When Should I be Concerned about flashes and floaters?
In many cases, floaters subside on their own. However, sometimes they indicate a small tear on the retina, which could potentially worsen into a retinal detachment.
Retinal detachments often result in the need for surgery and could lead to permanent loss of vision. For this reason, new floaters should be examined by your ophthalmologist at your earliest convenience. During a dilated eye exam, one of our experienced surgeons will be able to determine whether your floater(s) is a normal change of the vitreous gel or whether it will need treatment. When treatment is needed, laser is an option that can be chosen to heal, seal, and barricade the tear to prevent retinal detachment.
Contact our facility right away if you notice:
- The sudden appearance of new floaters
- Floaters accompanied new flashes of light in the same eye
- Darkness in your peripheral vision
These symptoms could indicate the beginning of a retinal tear, which requires immediate medical attention to prevent further damage.
How Are Flashes And Floaters Diagnosed?
Diagnosing flashes and floaters is relatively easy and straightforward. Our team at Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley will schedule you for a routine eye exam at our facility. We'll begin with a conversation about your symptoms. Then, we'll conduct a routine eye exam where we will dilate your eyes, affording us a clear view of your retina. This will allow us to ensure that you have not sustained damage to your retina such as retinal detachment or a tear that is causing your flashes and floaters.
How do you treat flashes and floaters?
At your appointment with one of our skilled doctors in Encino or West Hills, we can help you determine the underlying reason for your flashes and floaters. We will conduct a comprehensive eye exam before creating a tailored treatment plan. For patients who experience floaters and flashes, we offer a state-of-the-art YAG laser vitreolysis. With this type of treatment, our skilled ophthalmologists target the surface of your floaters. This specialized laser causes the floaters to fall apart, convert to hyaluronan and collagen particles, and reabsorb into the eye.
If we diagnose you with a torn or detached retina, you will need prompt medical attention. Most of the time, our skilled ophthalmologists can treat a detached retina with a specialized laser. No matter the diagnosis, we strive to ensure you feel knowledgeable about the treatment options available to you.
Flashes and floaters FAQs
What causes retinal detachment?
There are several different causes of retinal detachment. One common cause is age-related changes in the eye. As you age, the gel-like substance that fills the center of your eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina. This is called a vitreous detachment. Other causes of retinal detachment include an injury or trauma to the eye or previous eye surgery.
Is laser treatment safe?
Yes, laser treatment is safe when performed by our skilled professionals in Los Angeles, CA. We are proud to offer top-of-the-line technology that allows us to provide patients with the best possible care. If you have problems with a retinal detachment that causes flashes and floaters, we can help.
How do I prepare for my consultation?
There is not too much needed to prepare for a consultation at OAV. However, it is always helpful to write down any relevant symptoms and bring a list of any medications you are currently taking. We also need your medical records from any previous eye surgeries or treatments. Our goal is to provide the best possible care — so we will need as much information as possible.
Repair and relief
Generally, for patients who experience flashes and floaters, this is not a symptom of a more serious condition; however, they may become irritating and cause you to feel worried. If you notice additional flashes or floaters in your eyesight, please schedule an appointment to learn more. Our goal at Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley in San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA is to determine the underlying cause and help you live with better vision. Both of our locations in Encino and West Hills can help diagnose and treat flashes and floaters.