Floaters are specks, spots, or squiggly lines that periodically "float" across your line of vision. However, what you see are not actually floaters but the shadows that they cast on your retina. Floaters are often accompanied by flashes which are sporadic bursts of light that occur when the vitreous gel in your eye infringes on the retina. Both flashes and floaters can be especially noticeable when you're looking at a computer screen with a white background.
Flashes and floaters are extremely common, and the likelihood of experiencing them increases with age. Both are usually harmless, but should still be evaluated by an experienced ophthalmologist like Dr. Shah. In some instances, they may indicate an underlying problem that, left untreated, can lead to vision loss.
A new onset of flashes and floaters should always be checked out by your ophthalmologist as they could be a sign of a retinal tear and/or detachment. Immediate diagnosis and treatment with Dr. Shah can reduce your risk for complications, including vision loss.
Surprisingly, retinal tears and detachments are not painful. Therefore, an eye examination is the only way to diagnose these issues. Most people who experience a sudden onset of floaters and/or flashes are usually diagnosed with a posterior vitreous detachment (a benign condition); however, 10-15% may have an underlying retinal tear and/or detachment as the cause for their symptoms. Warning signs include an increase in new floaters and flashes, gradual shading of vision from the side, and/or diminished central vision. If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with Dr. Shah right away. Detected early, retinal tears can be treated, and retinal detachments can be prevented.
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