Every so often, a non distinct shape floats into your vision. You try to look directly at it, but it seems to move with your eye.
It’s a common experience that most of us have at one time or other. But for the most part, flashes and floaters are nothing to be concerned about.
When you’re born, the inside of your eyeball (the vitreous) is a gel like consistency. As you age, the vitreous slowly dissolves into a more liquid-like state.
The little shapes (which we call floaters) we see floating in our peripheral vision are simply little pieces of undissolved vitreous. They come in a variety of forms; sometimes appearing as little strings, others as clumps, and sometimes they even look like little doughnuts.
These floaters are mostly normal, and no reason for alarm. However, they can occasionally be an indicator of a bigger problem. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to the types and frequency of floaters you experience so you’re aware of any sudden changes.
The biggest thing to look out for with floaters is a sudden increase, especially if they seem to be coming down in a shower or are accompanied by flashes of light. Symptoms like these could mean your retina is detaching from the back of the eye. The retina needs nutrients from the blood supply at the back of the eye to survive, so it’s crucial you seek medical attention as soon as a sudden increase of floaters appears.
Every so often, we experience a quick flash of light, apparently from nowhere. It’s particularly common when you bump your head, or unexpectedly run into something.
You see the world around you because your retina takes in information and sends an electrical impulse through the optic nerve to the brain, which is then translated into an image. Sometimes a pull or jerk can stimulate the retina, sending a similar electrical impulse to your brain which is interpreted as a flash of light.
These split second experiences are what we refer to as flashes, and when they accompany something small like a slight bump on the head, they aren’t reason for concern. However, much like floaters, flashes can indicate a much bigger underlying problem. A retinal tear or detachment can cause a series of flashes. If you experience this, you should seek medical attention, as retinal damage can cause serious vision loss.
Come see us for yourself. We’re located Kelowna’s Pandosy Village District, across from Raymer Elementary School.