Floaters and Flashes
Most of these floaters are benign and will become less noticeable as time passes. They are not serious, and they tend to fade or go away over time. Severe persistent floaters can be removed by laser or surgery, but this is seldom necessary.
You will need a dilated eye exam if you have new onset of or changes in floater size or quantity or if you see flashes of light. You need a dilated exam right away if:
- a shadow appears in your peripheral (side) vision
- a gray curtain covers part of your vision
You are more likely to get floaters and PVD if you:
Floaters look like small specks, dots, circles, lines or cobwebs in your field of vision. They originate from a gel like substance that fills the inside of the eyeball behind the lens called vitreous. As we age, our vitreous gel starts to thicken or shrink, forming clumps or strands in it that appear as small, occasional floaters. These floaters are most notable in bright light.
If the vitreous gel collapses and completely pulls away from the back of the eye, it is called posterior vitreous detachment ( PVD) . More sudden onset of larger floaters usually happen with posterior vitreous detachment. It can also be associated with flashes of light or lightning streaks in your field of vision. Flashes happen when the vitreous rubs or pulls on your retina.
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of our eye. The retina converts the light rays into impulses that travel through the optic nerve to our brain, where they are interpreted as the images we see.
Macular hole is when a tear or opening forms in your macula. As the hole forms, things in your central vision will look blurry, wavy or distorted.
Macular pucker (also knows as Epiretinal Membrane or ERM) happens when wrinkles, creases or bulges form on your macula.
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Dr. Malihi is board certified in Ophthalmology and a fellow member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), Oregon Academy of Ophthalmology (OAO), and the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE). He is the founder of NELSI, INC., an eye care center in Portland, Oregon. Get your floaters and flashes examined by the best in eye care.
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