Flashes and Floaters
Almost Everyone Will Experience Eye Floaters & Flashes in Their Lifetime. Visit Us in Listowel to Have Yours Assessed.

All About Eye Floaters

Eye floaters are the squiggles and lines we see floating in our peripheral vision. When we try to focus on them, these floaters simply move to a different part of our visual field. Floaters are annoying for some but are otherwise generally harmless. However, as with any change to vision, a change in the frequency, amount, or size of floaters should be investigated.

What Causes Floaters?

Inside your eye is a gel-like substance called the vitreous. The composition of the vitreous changes as we age; over time, it becomes more watery and begins to break away from the retina. This process is normal and is associated primarily with aging.

When we see floaters, we aren’t actually seeing the floaters themselves. Rather, we are seeing the shadow the floaters cast onto the retina. This is because floaters are inside the eye, even though they appear to be in front.
The floaters themselves are clumps of collagen protein- parts of the vitreous that have solidified somewhat and clumped together.

When to See an Optometrist About Your Floaters

Almost everyone has some level of floaters, though some will have more than others. In most cases, floaters are harmless and are mildly annoying (at worst). However, if you see sudden change in the size, shape, and number of floaters – almost as if you are being “showered” in them – please see an Optometrist immediately. This may be indicative of a posterior vitreous detachment.

All About Eye Flashes

If you’ve ever taken a good knock to the head (such as when playing hockey), you probably already know what flashes look like. In some cases, a flash looks like a twinkle of light – almost like a firefly – dancing in your vision. In other cases, a light flash may look like a streak of lightning jumping across your field of view.

Unlike floaters, flashes are are not considered “normal”. We recommend that you be seen by an Optometrist (or other qualified professional) any time a new instance of flashes occurs.

What Causes Flashes?

Your retina is responsible for interpreting light sensory information into an electrical signal your brain understands. This signal is sent through the optic nerve to the occipital lobe in the brain, where this data is interpreted and then displayed.

When the retina is physically manipulated – such as tugged on or impacted after a blow to your head – the resulting sensory information is transmitted to the brain. The brain, not knowing what this information is, simply renders it as a flash of light.

When to See an Optometrist About Flashes

Every new instance of flashes should be investigated due to the potential ramifications that they can have. While in most cases the result will be nothing, flashes can also indicate a retinal detachment or other type of serious eye problem.

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