Flashes And Floaters


Some patients experience “flashes of light” and these flashes occur due to the vitreous jelly exerting traction on the retina causing the impression of a small flash of light, often in the peripheral vision.

Floaters, a more common problem, are due to debris in the vitreous jelly that may float across the visual axis and cause the patient to see an image such as a fine line, a blob, a circle, or a cobweb which may move across their field of vision. A shower of small floaters can be associated with vitreous haemorrhage, due to a capillary or retinal tear.

Floaters in the eye can look like a shower of golden flecks or blobs floating around in the vitreous jelly of the eye
Vitreous floaters in the eye. There may be treatment options available depending on the type and location of the floaters.

What are the consequences of flashes and floaters?

Symptoms of flashes and floaters are usually benign, but one in ten patients with these symptoms may have a retinal tear, which requires urgent treatment. In the majority of cases, these symptoms of flashes and floaters usually subside over months or years.

When to seek medical attention?

The following symptoms should be watched out for as they may indicate progression of the problem and development of a retinal tear or retinal detachment.

They are:

  • Sudden increase in the frequency of flashes
  • Flashes become persistent such as being present all day
  • Floaters which become much larger or increase in number
  • The impression of a curtain coming down, coming up or moving sideways
  • Loss of vision

If any of the symptoms occurs, you should contact City Eye Centre on 3831 6888. Please let our reception staff know of your condition and we will ensure you are seen as soon as possible.

Treatment and follow-ups for flashes and floaters

You may be required to attend for a follow-up usually within a few weeks. This is important as your symptoms may progress and you may develop a tear in the retina over the subsequent weeks.

Certain types of floaters that are not associated with tears in the retina may be treated if they are affecting your central vision significantly. Vitreolysis laser treatment is available at City Eye Centre and for more information click here. Some floaters require removal by vitrectomy surgery if they are significantly affecting your vision and are non-clearing. A comprehensive examination is required and your surgeon will discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery at the consultation with you. For more information on vitrectomy surgery, please click here.