As we progress through the years, the vast majority of us will begin to suffer from various ailments and health issues which may or may not be as serious as we think. For the most part, this is particularly true of eye problems and one of the most common issues related to optical health, and one which is often experienced by those in late to middle age, is the sudden and unexpected appearance of flashes and floaters. However, nearly everybody will experience these symptoms occasionally regardless of how old they are. The tell tale signs that you are suffering from floaters are that you will start to notice miniscule floating dots or spots that aren’t actually there and in the case of flashes, as the name suggests, you will often see short bursts of bright light or electrical arcs for no apparent reason.
If you are one of the many people who has noticed that the frequency and severity of these annoying symptoms are beginning to increase as you age then it is advisable that you seek medical attention from a certified professional such as your local GP or a qualified ophthalmologist. This will help to identify the underlying cause of the problem which, without raising unnecessary alarm bells, might be a true cause for concern. On the other hand, you should bear in mind that most cases of flashes & floaters are nothing too serious and the condition should normally fade away over time with the problem resolving itself naturally.
What Are The Main Causes For Flashes and Floaters?
The most common cause of flashes and floaters is the aging process. As we grow older, so too does the substance that fills the area eye between the retina lining and the lens, which is known as the vitreous humour. When we are young, this clear gel is quite thick and firm but over the years it can slowly begin to degenerate and become more watery while in other areas the vitreous may clump together. If there is any debris that develops in this region, it can cast tiny shadows on the retina and this is the reason that small dots or bubbles can appear present in our field of vision. In some cases, an accumulated mass of gel can actually pull away from the retina causing more intense shadows and flashes of light.
Although most flashes and floaters are quite harmless they can sometimes be indicative of something much more serious such as a tear in the lining of the retina or a retinal hole. An even more serious issue is retinal detachment. In order to confirm the severity of this kind of eye problem, it is important that you seek medical attention as quickly as possible. This is particularly advisable if you begin to see a significant amount of floating spots or a highly persistent occurrence of flashing lights. Once a diagnosis is made, a plan of action will be outlined and treatment can commence.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
One available treatment for such a condition involves the replacement of the vitreous humour with an alternative substance such as an artificial gel or saltwater solution. Modern surgical procedures that can be employed to repair a retinal tear include laser eye surgery by a qualified practitioner. Using a specially developed laser, the tear itself can be sealed and the retina reattached with high mathematical precision.
In the case of floaters, any excessively large clumps of debris can be eliminated or reduced in size using a laser beam. However, this is only advisable for sizeable floaters as the risk of eradicating small bits of debris can be quite dangerous so the procedure is not always recommended. As always, a professional consultation is always the best way forward in terms of diagnosing the cause of the problem and deciding on the most appropriate form of treatment. Additional methods of treating the underlying causes of flashes and floaters involve the application of topical eye drops and the injection of specially formulated eye drugs.
If the cause of the flashes and floaters you are experiencing is something serious like the early onset or advanced stages of retinal detachment then urgent medical attention should be sought immediately as permanent loss of vision can be a very realistic prospect. The symptoms of a retinal tear or retinal detachment will typically include violent flashes of light which occur in the outer field of vision although the condition might not be as painful as you would imagine.