Why do I see flashes and floaters? Do I need to do anything about it?

Why do I see flashes and floaters? Do I need to do anything about it?

Have you recently experienced little bubbles, cobweb like shapes or thread like things when you look at a plain wall or background? Maybe you noticed sudden sparks of light in your field of vision?


Then you are experiencing a problem called Flashes and Floaters. To know what this phenomenon is and how to get it rectified, keep reading.

What are floaters and flashes?

Floaters and flashes are two separate eye conditions that could happen to anyone. Floaters are more noticeable while you are looking at a blank wall or a plain background. It may be black spots or bubbles, threads or little specks that are floating around in a plain background. They are basically cells or tiny lumps of jelly-like clear fluid that fills inside the eye called the vitreous.

Flashes are very similar to the feeling you get when you hurt your eye and start ‘seeing stars’. They are sudden sparks in your field of vision that appear even when you haven’t injured your eye.

How are these harmful to me?

Floaters can happen at any age, but are more common when you are middle aged. When you start seeing floaters, it is the vitreous gel pulling away from the back wall of the eye and could be a sign of posterior vitreous detachment. In some cases, it can tear the retina away, which can lead to retinal detachment. In other words, it could cause serious eye damage or even lead to blindness.

Flashes happen when the vitreous gel thickens and pulls on the retina and you start seeing streaks of lightening or flashing lights. These flashes may appear on and off over a period of several weeks or months and as you grow older, you start seeing these flashes of light more frequently. Flashes are also an indication of an inflammation or an infection in the retina, which, if ignored can cause permanent loss of sight. If you start seeing flashes suddenly, it could mean that the retina is torn and you should immediately consult an ophthalmologist to protect your eyesight.

What causes these floaters or flashes to occur?

There are several reasons as to why you start seeing floaters and flashes. Here are some of the most common reasons:

Retinal detachment (also known as Retinal tear):

This often happens when you have a nearsighted vision, or have had any kind of eye trauma or eye surgery. Most people ignore these symptoms thinking that they will heal soon, but ignoring it could cause severe eye damage.

Posterior vitreous detachment:

This is the most common cause of flashes and floaters. It occurs when the vitreous gel detaches from the retina. It also occurs naturally around the age of 55-60. If it happens in one eye, it usually happens in the other eye too.

Inflammation and infection in the eye:

Inflammations like Uveitis or fungal infections in the eye can also make you see floaters or flashes. If you feel any discomfort or pain in the eyes, it is better to see an eye doctor.

Tumours in the eye:

Sometimes seeing flashes or floaters can also be because of a tumour in the eye. Even though these tumours are rare and uncommon, they should not be ruled out. It is highly recommended that you get your eyes checked on a regular basis.

Bleeding or haemorrhaging in the retina:

 Haemorrhages happen when a pull on the retina tears the blood vessel and it starts bleeding. It can also happen when a person is diabetic and new abnormal blood vessels start developing in the eyes. These abnormal blood vessels can tear easily and cause internal bleeding. Sometimes these tiny haemorrhages may get cured on their own, but sometimes they can grow bigger and may require an eye surgery.

Ignorance isn’t bliss

Often people don’t notice these tiny signs, or even if they do, they ignore it thinking that it is temporary and will heal on its own. This can make matters worse and you may end up causing permanent damage. A simple check-up in the early stages can go a long way in keeping your eyes healthy!

If you are experiencing the above mentioned symptoms or know of someone who is currently experiencing it, book for an eye check-up at the nearest eye hospital right away!

If you are based in Mangalore or Udupi, you can call Toll-free number 1800-4251-919or our mobile no. 09513576565 and make a quick appointment at Prasad Netralaya Eye Hospital immediately! You can also book your appointment by filling this simple form.