Authored by: OCC LASIK

If you have ever experienced those little squiggly lines and dots in your field of vision, it was probably a little scary the first time it happened. When you tried to focus on them, they flew out of your sight. But when you relaxed your eyes, there they were again, floating in front of you to annoy and maybe alarm you. Here are some facts about eye floaters and flashes you should know:

eye floaters

Let’s Talk Floaters

These so called ‘floaters’ are tiny clumps of cells from inside the vitreous of your eye. That is the white jelly like fluid which comprises 2/3 of your eyes volume. Floaters can look like circles, lines, or cobwebs. These little clumps break off as your vitreous starts to shrink and pull away from the retina.

Even though it looks like you can reach out and grab them as they float in front of your eyes, they are actually floating inside your eye. What you really are seeing is their shadow on your retina. That is the nerve which lines the back of your eye and acts very much like the film in a camera. In turn, the retina sends the image to the optic nerve and your brain, allowing you to see.

Patients who have diabetes, have had cataract surgery or an injury to the eye are likely to experience floaters. For most people, they are annoying but not a real danger. They eventually fall out of your line of sight and you don’t notice them any longer.


Flashes in your visual field occur when the vitreous gel tugs or pulls on the retina. They are generally harmless like floaters, but they can signal a more serious condition. In some cases the vitreous tug on the retina can cause it to pull away, resulting in a tear. When this happens, the liquid seeps into the tear and can result in a retinal detachment. Both retinal detachments and tears are painless, but can result in permanent loss of vision. When you have a sudden onset of both floaters and flashes, this is cause for concern.

A Retinal Detachment And When To See An Ophthalmologist

If a tear is detected early enough, it can prevent the retinal detachment. Don’t hesitate to call an ophthalmologist immediately if you experience any of these warning signs:

  • A very large floater or a ‘shower’ of floaters
  • Very sudden flashes and loss of peripheral vision
  • A gradual darkening or shrouding in your field of vision
  • Sharp loss of your central vision

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, or if you have any questions, feel free to contact OCC LASIK for a visit with our retinal specialists. Knowing the facts about eye floaters and flashes can help preserve your vision.


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