Flashes of light and floating dots or lines in your visual field are both possible signs of serious retina problems, including retinal detachment. But, in some cases, occasional flashes and floaters are simply signs of aging. To know the difference and get the necessary treatment, you need a retina specialist. Anu Patel, MD, the experienced ophthalmologist at Retina Institute of Michigan, uses the latest technology to diagnose and treat flashes, floaters, and other retinal problems. Call the office in Bingham Farms or send us a message through our website

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What are flashes?

Flashes, as the name implies, are bright flashes or streaks of light that suddenly appear in your visual field. Flashes occur when your vitreous body, the transparent gel that fills your eyeball and helps it maintain shape, tugs on, or pushes against the retina at the back of your eye.

Flashes can happen as you age because the vitreous body shrinks naturally over time. But, age-related flashes are occasional rather than persistent and constant. Flashes can also be a symptom of a torn or detached retina, both of which require prompt medical attention.

What are floaters?

Floaters are spots, lines, irregular shapes, or weblike patterns that pop up in your visual field. You can see floaters when small clumps develop within your vitreous body. These clumps reflect on your retina, which causes the odd shapes in your visual field.

As with flashes, floaters can develop as you age because of vitreous body shrinkage. But, floaters can be a sign of a torn or detached retina, too.

When are flashes and floaters dangerous?

Flashes and floaters occasionally aren’t necessarily anything to worry about as long as you share that info with Dr. Patel during your next eye exam. But, if any of the following are true, your floaters and flashes may be dangerous, especially if they occur in just one eye.

  • New floaters suddenly appear
  • Flashes occur frequently
  • Dark shadows to your sides
  • Gray curtain seems to move across your vision

It’s especially important to monitor your flashes and floaters closely if you have diabetes or other conditions that put you at risk for retinal problems. When you notice one or more of the symptoms listed above, reach out to the Retina Institute of Michigan immediately. Dr. Patel can evaluate your eye health and start any necessary treatment right away.

How are flashes and floaters treated?

If your retina is torn or pulled loose from the back of your eye (retinal detachment), Dr. Patel can help. Your treatment may include laser therapy or surgery to repair a tear or detachment.

If you’re worried about floaters and flashes, reach out for help from a leading retinal care specialist today. Call Retina Institute of Michigan or send us a message through our website.