You know those little dark-coloured dots or lines that occasionally wiggle across your vision? Those are floaters. Most of us experience them at some point or another, but they very rarely cause a problem and are largely benign. Flashes – like “seeing stars” – are not natural, and usually follow quite serious trauma to the head or eye.
If you occasionally notice floaters and they don’t affect your vision, there’s no reason to come in for an appointment in addition to your annual eye exam. However, if you notice a marked increase in the activity, number or size of your floaters, then it would be best to get your eyes checked to see if the floaters are due to an underlying illness. If you experience flashes of any kind, you should pay us a visit.
As we age, the vitreous gel (in between the lens and retina) towards the back of our eyes begins to change into a more liquid state. This is completely natural, and usually presents with small, floating protein particles. These particles actually cast a shadow on the retina, which is what makes it seems like they are in front of our eyes.
These are small bursts of light which appear in our field of vision. If you regularly experience flashes, any change in their regularity or severity should prompt another visit to us.
These are caused by some kind of external stimulus which pulls at the retina. Since the retina is responsible for transporting the light (which enters through the pupil) into electrical signals interpreted by the brain, any trauma to the retina manifests as visible light. Any case of flashes could indicate a serious underlying condition, so it is imperative that you always get in touch when you notice them.