The Eye Gallery

Flashes & Floaters in Wichita

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Do You See Flashes of Light or Shadows?

Floaters, the squiggly lines that float in our vision, and flashes, the spots or streaks of light that sometimes appear in our vision, are two visual phenomena that most people will experience throughout their lives.

We see hundreds of patients every year at The Eye Gallery who mention seeing eye floaters or flashes in their vision. Although irritating, flashes and floaters are generally not medically dangerous.

However, the sudden onset of flashes or floaters may be a sign of a condition that could lead to vision loss. Always mention your flashes and floaters during your eye exams, just so your optometrist can rule out harmful eye conditions.

More About Flashes

What Are Flashes?

Sometimes called “flashers” and often described as “seeing stars,” flashes of light occur in our vision when the retina is physically stimulated. The retina is the part of the eye loaded with light-sensitive cells. These cells transmit light as visual signals to the brain via the optic nerve.

As we age, the vitreous, the clear gel-like fluid that gives the eye its shape, changes, shrinks, thickens, and can pull or rub on the retina, causing flashes in our vision.

Although it’s common to see flashes as we grow older, you can also see flashes if you’re physically hit in the eye or rub your eyes too hard, which applies force to the retina.

Flashes of light can also be a sign of a torn retina or retinal detachment or migraine headaches.

If you see a change in your flashes’ frequency, or if they appear almost like fireworks, you should see Dr. Baldwin as soon as possible.

More About Floaters

What Are Floaters?

Floaters are the shadows, specks, or “cobwebs” that sometimes float around in your field of vision. They dart away when you try to look right at them, and they drift around when your eyes are at rest.

Almost everyone will complain about seeing eye floaters at least once. They occur when the vitreous shrinks and becomes stringy as we age, and are natural proteins suspended inside.

Inside your eye is a gel-like substance called the vitreous. As we age, the vitreous changes consistency, and microscopic clumps of protein form, casting shadows onto the retina as light passes through the eye. These are what become the floaters in our vision.

Floaters are usually harmless—a natural part of getting older.

However, a sudden and significant increase in the volume of floaters should be investigated by an eye care professional immediately. A sudden increase in floaters may indicate a developing eye disease or other eye condition, like infection, uveitis, hemorrhage, retinal tears or detachment, or injury.

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