Floaters and Flashers

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Definition:
Floaters are small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision as you look at a blank wall or a clear blue sky. Most people have some floaters normally but do not notice them until they become numerous or more prominent.

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In most cases floaters are part of the natural aging process. Floaters look like cobwebs, squiggly lines or floating bugs, and appear to be in front of the eye, but are actually floating inside. As we get older, the vitreous (gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye) tends to shrink slightly and detach from the retina, forming clumps. What you see are the shadows these clumps cast on the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer lining the back of the eye.

The appearance of flashing lights comes from the traction of the vitreous gel on the retina at the time of vitreous separation. Flashes look like twinkles or lightning streaks. You may have experienced the same sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and seen stars.

The appearance of flashing lights comes from the traction of the vitreous gel on the retina at the time of vitreous separation. Flashes look like twinkles or lightning streaks. You may have experienced the same sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and seen stars.

Migraine Flashes:

Migraine, another type of flasher, is caused by sudden spasm of blood vessels in the brain. They cause zigzag, shimmering or colorful lines moving within the visual field. Sometimes these are accompanied by headache, nausea or dizziness.

Other Causes:

Floaters can also be caused by old or new bleeding within the eye, or anything that causes eye inflammation, like a severe eye infection or trauma. Flashes can be generated by any abnormal stimulus to the retina, like being hit in the eye.