Woodstock Optical
419 Dundas St Woodstock ON N4S 1B8 226.400.1821
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Flashes and Floaters

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Flashes and Floaters

The term “floaters” refers to tiny specks, spots, or circles that drift throughout your field of vision. Annoying as they may be, floaters are usually harmless to a person’s vision.

Flashing lights or lightning streaks are referred to as flashes. Flashes are best described as the sensation experienced after being hit in the eye or head and seeing “stars”.  

Causes of Flashes and Floaters

With age, it is more common to experience floaters and flashes. As we grow older, the vitreous gel within the eye begins to pull away from the back wall. As it begins to shrink and pull away, small clumps or strands of cells may form within the eye. This is a common cause of floaters.

The above processes is called posterior vitreous detachment. Flashes occur when pressure is being applied to your retina while PVD takes place. Flashes should subside after the vitreous finally detaches. If they do not, they could be a warning sign of a retinal detachment.


An eye examination should be scheduled with the optometrist immediately if any of the following symptoms are experienced:

  • Large floater or showers of floaters appearing suddenly
  • Sudden persistent flashes of light
  • Sensation of a curtain appearing in your periphery
  • A gray curtain moving across your field of vision
  • A sudden decrease in vision

Flashes & Floaters Diagnosis

When the optometrist examines you, eyedrops will be used to dilate your pupils. By doing so, the optometrist will be able to see areas of your eye better (such as the retina and vitreous).

The examination is painless and will allow for the Optometrist to determine whether or not your case of flashes and floaters is harmless or potentially dangerous. It is important to schedule an eye examination after experiencing any of the symptoms above to ensure they are not caused by a retinal detachment.

Retinal Detachment

When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled away from its normal position. If not treated immediately, a retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss.


Floaters may be treated by an in-office procedure called laser vitreolysis. During the procedure, a laser beam is projected into the eye through the pupil and focused on large floaters. The laser breaks them apart and vaporizes them so they disappear or become less bothersome.

the optometrist will consider several factors such as age, symptoms, location of your floaters, and what they look like before determining if you can benefit from laser vitreolysis.

Retinal detachments can be treated with laser surgery within the Optometrist’s office. The laser makes tiny burns around the detachment to “weld” the retina back into place.


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  • Written by Herb Diestler

    While I was born in Calgary, Alberta, my mother and brother returned to my parent’s home country when I was three where I completed all my schooling. I first started in my profession in 1973 and apprenticed in Vienna, Austria where I grew up until I turned 20. After the successful completion of my Canadian Diploma, I first spent 2 years in Ottawa and then was hired by a local firm in Woodstock, which I managed from 1979 – 1984.

    I opened my own store in 1984 and we moved to our present location at 419 Dundas Street in 1998. Since then, Doctors of Optometry have joined our dispensary and we offer complete eye exams and also have an in-house lab to produce all prescription glasses right on site.

    As a father of five grown children, one daughter and four sons, life has been busy and very rewarding. I have had the opportunity to participate in volunteer trips to help less fortunate people with much needed eye care and each of my kids came along once to experience this part of life by helping out alongside others.

    In my spare time I play the piano (not very well … ) and during the warmer season, love to hate the game of golf, which I took up when my kids were teenagers and I could divert some time to this great yet frustrating game. As time is marching on, I go to the gym to stay in reasonable shape.

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