Flashes and FloatersThose tiny specks or clouds we see moving in our field of vision are called floaters. Floaters are actually small clumps of material and/or cells inside the gel-like fluid, called the vitreous, in your eye. Floaters can appear in many forms and sizes. Flashes are the sensation of flashing lights or lightning streaks caused by the pulling of the vitreous gel on your retina. Both of these occurrences become more common as we age due to the vitreous gel pulling away from the back wall of the eye. In some cases, these occurrences are due to a retinal tear or detachment and need to be treated quickly to avoid vision loss. Delayed treatment can result in the retina detaching from the back of the eye.If you experience the following, please contact an ophthalmologist right away:
- A sudden increase in floaters
- A sudden appearance of flashes
- An appearance of a shadow or curtain on the side of your field of vision
- A gray curtain moving across your field of vision
- A sudden decrease in your vision
Retinal tear occurs when part of retina separates from the outer layer of eye. Retinal tears are usually treated with laser treatment to prevent the retinal tear from developing into retinal detachment.Laser treatment works by forming a scar around the retinal tear and prevents the vitreous from seeping through the tear.Some retinal tears do not need treatment as they may not lead to retinal detachment. However they may still need to be observed and followed up to ensure that the retina remains stable.Treatment of retinal tear is usually successful with a success rate of 95%. Early treatment of retinal tear can preserve normal vision and prevent severe vision loss.
Retinal DetachmentRetinal detachment is a very serious condition that occurs when the retina separates from the tissue surrounding it. Without immediate treatment, a retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. People who are severely nearsighted, have had an eye injury or have a family history of retinal detachments are more likely to get a detached retina. There are several ways to treat a detached retina, including with lasers and surgery. Retinal tears often occur before a retinal detachment and is usually caused by the tugging of the vitreous. When the vitreous shrinks over time, a piece of the retina may stay adhered to the vitreous causing a tear. When a retina tear occurs and is not treated quickly, fluid can enter the tear and lift the retina off the surrounding tissue, creating a retinal detachment.