Flashes and Floaters may seem to be an uncommon term in a layman’s world but it is a very common visual symptom experienced by lots of people daily, weekly or monthly.

What are Floaters and Flashes?

The eyeball is made up of an inner part, which contains a clear jelly-like material called the vitreous. It helps to maintain the round shape of the eye; this gel is made up of proteins. As aging takes place, the gel begins to shrink and thicken, causing certain light sensitive microscopic fibers attached to the retina and lining part of the eye to pull away from the interior surface of the eye. When this occurs it is called posterior vitreous detachment. As some parts of this gel thicken, other parts liquefy. When this happens, these fibers within the vitreous clump together. These clumps form debris or particles, which then float around within the vitreous cavity of the eye.

It is important to seek advice when a flood of new floaters is noticed, especially if they are associated with flashes of lights in the outer visual field because even though this may be painless, it could mean a retinal tear has occurred with or without a retinal detachment.

If the flashes or floaters are caused by a retinal detachment, urgent or immediate attention is again required, as even a short delay can lead to permanent loss of sight.