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Something flashes and floats in my vision

Flashes of light are often seen as fireworks or arcs of light in your peripheral vision. Floaters on the other hand are often described as black spots, strings or tiny specks floating in your vision. They tend to be noticed when looking at a white wall or blue sky, and that they move around in your vision as you move your eyes.

Normally, the eye is filled with a clear jelly-like substance called the vitreous. The vitreous is quite firm when we are young, but becomes liquefied as we age. Floaters occur when parts of the vitreous have not fully liquefied. The vitreous can also shrink and peel away from the retina as it liquefies as we age, which is known as a vitreous detachment. This causes clumps of the vitreous to float in the eye and can create shadows as light passes through the eye, leading to the illusion of black spots or strings in your vision. 

Floaters can also be caused by disruptions to the retina at the back of your eye. Retinal tears or detachments can cause some blood to be released into the vitreous, which can often be observed as floaters. In extreme cases, retinal detachments may cause large floaters that obscure part or most of your vision, like a curtain hanging down. Retinal detachments also lead to flashes in your vision and are serious , and so require immediate treatment to prevent permanent vision loss.

While floaters are more common, if floaters and flashes suddenly appear in your vision, please make an appointment to see an optometrists urgently (within 24 hours) as this is an ocular emergency. If you have any concerns or would like to enquire more about this, please contact us on 9728 7288 to book to see one of our lovely optometrists.

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