What is a Floater?

 Floaters  are when you see a small clump or cloud moving around in your vision.  You may notice them more when looking at a white background.

Floaters become more common as we age.  They form when the jelly that fills the back of our eye liquefies with age.  Portions of the vitreous often clump together and you notice a floater moving around in the vision.

A floater may present in different shapes and sizes.  For example, you may notice a circle, a line or strand, a clump or a cobweb shape.

Why do we get Floaters?Floaters and Flashes | Eye Surgery Institute | Alaina Kronenberg MD

As we age, the vitreous jelly that fills the back of our eye liquefies.  As the jelly liquefies and shrinks, you may notice new floaters.  The vitreous jelly often pulls away from the back of our eye as we age causing a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

Why do we get Flashes?

Flashes are when you see lightning streaks or stars in your vision.  We often see flashes when the vitreous jelly is trying to pull away from the retina.  Traction can occur and this can give the sensation of flashes of light in your vision.  Flashes related to your retina usually last a only a few seconds.  Flashes lasting several minutes can be caused by other problems such as a migraine.

Why Do I Need To Have an Urgent Eye Examination?

New floaters and flashes can possibly be a symptoms of a retinal tear or a retinal detachment.  This can be vision threatening.   As the vitreous gel liquefies and shrinks it pulls away from the retina.

It is possible that your new floaters or flashes could signal a serious ocular problem.  There is no way to tell if you have a retinal tear or retinal detachment without an examination.  It is important to have an urgent dilated eye examination to check for a retinal problem.  It is also important to call if you notice a curtain or window shade in your vision.

Alaina Kronenberg, M.D.
Cataract Specialist
Comprehensive Ophthalmologist
Dearborn, Michigan 48126

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