Flashes and Floaters
Many patients call our Smithtown or Riverhead New York offices in Long Island with a complaint of new floaters in their vision. The vitreous body is the fluid that fills the back of the eye. The vitreous occupies the space between the retina and the lens of the eye. As we age, the vitreous degenerates and becomes more watery. This is a natural process of aging.
Many patients have floaters that look like small dark objects that move as we move our eyes. Floaters are usually seen during the day because they are easier to see when there is more light. When you see a floater, you are actually seeing a shadow of a particle in your eye. Floaters are not usually visually dangerous.
When a patient sees a sudden increase in floaters or flashes of light that occur in their peripheral vision, this can be the sign of a posterior vitreous detachment. A posterior vitreous detachment occurs when the vitreous gel separates from the retina suddenly. The flashes of light represent the areas of gel that are still attached to the retina and when the gel pulls against the retina, the traction creates a flash of light. It is important to call your eye doctor when these symptoms occur because new floaters and flashes can be associated with a tear in the retina. The retina is similar to the film in a camera. It is a delicate tissue that lines the back of the eye. If a tear in the retina is discovered by our board certified eye doctors and eye surgeons, it is treated with laser to close it. A retinal tear left untreated can become a retinal detachment over time by fluid getting under the retina and lifting it up. A retinal detachment is a more serious eye problem that needs emergency eye surgery.
Posterior vitreous detachments are serious, but usually benign in nature. It is important to be examined on an emergency basis to ensure that a retinal tear has not occurred.