Floaters & Flashes

Floaters are tiny specks that look like dust in your field of vision. Flashes look like flashing lights or lightning streaks in your frame of vision.

What are Floaters and Flashes?

Floaters are tiny specks that look like dust in your field of vision. A floater can also be characterized as cobwebs, lines, clouds, or circles. Flashes look like flashing lights or lightning streaks in your frame of vision. Floaters occur because tiny clusters of cells or flecks of proteins are lodged in the vitreous humor and form shadows on your retina. Flashes occur when the vitreous gel bumps, rubs, or tugs against the retina.


Why do I have Floaters and Flashes?

Flashes and floaters are common occurrences that happen more often when people age. This is because they are associated with shrinking vitreous gel, which is the clear liquid inside of the eyeball. As the vitreous shrinks, it can cause shadows from cells lining the back part of the eyeball. When the vitreous gel pulls away, this is called a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

PVDs are more common in people who are nearsighted, have undergone cataract operations, have had YAG laser surgery of the eye, or have had inflammation inside the eye. PVDs usually do not threaten vision. However, PVDs should be monitored, as they can cause the retina to tear. If fluid from inside the eye seeps through the tear and separates the retina from the tissues that nourish it, this may lead to permanent vision loss.

Flashes and floaters may be associated with retinal tears and detachments. If a tear is detected early, treatment via laser photocoagulation or cryopexy can prevent the retina from detaching. If you have noticed any new flashes or floaters or have experienced any of the following warning signs:

  • A burst of new floaters or flashes
  • A shadow in your peripheral vision
  • A gradual shading of vision from one side (like a curtain)
  • A rapid decline in sharp, central vision

Please seek treatment by an ophthalmologist for an eye exam as soon as possible.

Is there a Treatment for Floaters and Flashes?

Here at South Bay Retina, Dr. Narain is a vitreoretinal specialist who regularly treats floaters and flashers. His treatment begins with a detailed retinal exam to see if your eye condition is caused by a more serious eye problem, such as a retinal tear or detachment. Typically, however, vitreous floaters and flashes are harmless and can be left untreated. However, if the floaters are obstructing your vision, Dr. Narain can use a laser to break the floaters into smaller pieces, this procedure is called Yag Vitreolysis.

If you have a retinal tear or detachment, this requires immediate medical attention and may require laser treatment to barricade the tear or surgery to repair the detachment.

Request an Appointment in San Jose or Gilroy, California

If you are experiencing floaters or flashes, contact South Bay Retina. Dr. Narain is an experienced ophthalmologist and retina specialist, and our offices have the technology to help you. Schedule at one of our two locations in the South Bay: San Jose and Gilroy. Call (408) 294-3534 for our San Jose and Gilroy office. You can also click on the button below to schedule an appointment online.


Call us at (408) 294-3534 or request online.

San Jose Office

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We're happy to answer any questions you may have, feel free to call us at
(408) 294-3534