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Flashes and floaters

Flashes may represent the gel portion of the eye (vitreous) pulling on the retina. The retina does not "feel" or convey pain, but when the gel pulls on the retina the perception of a flash is generated. If the gel is pulling on the retina there is a chance that a retinal tear may occur. A retinal tear is treated with "tack down laser" to prevent a retinal detachment.

Floaters may represent vitreous strands that have clumped together. More worrisome, floaters may represent blood or pigment that has been liberated inside the eye with a retinal tear. Hence, if you notice an increase in floaters, or any dark curtains or shadows in your vision, a retinal exam to rule out any new retinal tears or retinal detachment should be performed.

Click here to read information from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health on flashes and floaters.