Floaters & Flashes


Floaters look like small dots, specks, wavy lines, or ‘flies’ that move around in your field of vision. They are called ‘floaters’ because they move around when you move your eyes. Even though they tend to happen to people over 30, they can happen to anyone at any time, although people who are short-sighted are more likely to have it.

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Cause of Floaters

The vitreous gel is a fluid that looks like jelly and fills the inside of the eye. With age, the vitreous gel breaks down naturally, which causes it to shrink, get more dense, and become more fluid-like. They condense to form tiny clumps of gel, vitreous strings, or pieces of dead cells, inside the eye. Floaters can also appear due to inflammation in the eye.


Symptoms of floaters

Floaters may show up initially in the middle of your field of vision and be fixed to a spot, which can be annoying. As the vitreous keeps breaking down, the floaters move around more easily and you may notice them less often.

Flashes of light

When the vitreous gel shrinks, it can pull on the retina and cause flashes of light or lightning streaks to be seen in the eye. These are usually visible when it is dark or when the eyes are closed. Like floaters, these are often caused by the natural ageing of the vitreous gel.

signs of Retinal Tears or Detachment

Even though floaters and flashes are usually not serious, as the vitreous gel degenerates and shrinks, it can pull on the retina and cause a tear, which can lead to a detachment of the retina.

Early signs of a retinal tear or detachment include a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light that do not go away, or a portion of the visual field that stays blurry and dark. When this happens, you should see an eye doctor right away for a thorough eye exam to rule out a tear or detachment of the retina.


There is no one way to treat flashes or floaters. Most of the time, they decrease in number on their own over time. Moving your eyes from side to side or up and down can help stir up the vitreous fluid and move the floaters out of your line of sight.

The main worry is that the retina could tear or detach from the back of the eye. So, you should see an eye doctor right away if you have just started having these symptoms or if the number of floaters or flashes has suddenly gone up, or if there is persistent blurring in a part of your field of vision.