Floaters and flashes occur when the vitreous gel inside the eye detaches from the retina.
The vitreous gel will detach from the retina in everyone’s eye if we live long enough. The gel contracts and shrinks and pulls away from the retina. When the vitreous pulls away, the retina is stimulated and we perceive a flash of light. The floaters are simply opacities and fragments in the vitreous cavity, which are more mobile and swirl around between the lens and the retina, casting a shadow on the retina.
Any recent onset flashes and floaters requires your Envision Optical optometrist to dilate your pupils to enable a careful examination of the vitreous and peripheral retina. This is because 10-15% of people will suffer a retinal tear when the gel pulls away.
If no retinal tears are found then observation and review is all that’s required. If a retinal tear is found, or significant blood is observed then referral to a retinal specialist will be organized. The retinal specialist will treat the tear by applying laser therapy to make the torn retina adhere to the underlying tissue and prevent retinal detachment. If any fluid has leaked under the tear then retinal detachment repair surgery will be required.
If no retinal tear is observed, it is recommended to have a review one month after the initial visit to rule out further progression. You can expect the flashes of light to diminish over a couple of weeks and the floaters will slowly sink out of view over a couple of months. If you observe any new floaters or increased flashes of light or notice shadows or “curtains” over your side vision, you must contact Envision immediately for further review.