What are Floaters and Flashers?

Flashers and floaters are both conditions that occur in the vitreous portion of the eye. The vitreous is the jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of the eye. On their own, flashers and floaters are not causes for alarm, but they may be symptoms of a more serious problem.

Symptoms of Floaters

Floaters are the perception of objects that appear to “float” in front of the eye. These objects may resemble:

  • Strings
  • Streaks
  • Bugs
  • Clouds
  • Dots
  • Dust

Causes of Floaters

  • Cellular debris
  • The normal aging process
  • Retinal tear
  • Retinal detachment
Two Dallas retina eye care patients exercising together Dallas retina eye care patients exercising

Diagnosing Floaters

For the most part, floaters are caused by cellular debris that finds its way into the vitreous gel. This debris, such as blood or retinal tissue, casts shadows that can disrupt your natural vision. Cellular debris is a common aging complaint and though they can be annoying, are not generally a cause for concern.

Floaters will, over time, usually diminish or go away altogether. It is highly recommended, however, that you see an eye specialist if floaters appear suddenly, as this can be a symptom of retinal detachment.

Symptoms of Flashers

Perceiving what could be described as:

  • Sparkles
  • Disco lights
  • Fireflies
  • Sparks
  • Stars

Causes of Flashers

  • The normal aging process
  • Migraines
  • Retinal tear
  • Retinal detachment

Diagnosing Flashers

Flashes of light occur when the vitreous gel rubs up against or tugs on the retina. This is a common occurrence and is most likely the result of natural aging. These flashes will generally appear infrequently for two to three weeks, or even several months, and then dissipate on their own. If a sudden onset of frequent flashes occurs, however, you should see an eye specialist at Kleiman | Evangelista immediately. Intense frequencies of flashes can be an indicator of a more serious problem.

Treating Flashers and Floaters

Flashers and floaters generally will clear up on their own without any action required. An optical exam is required, however, to rule out the possibility of retinal tear or detachment.