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West Coast Eye Institute

OUR VISION. CLEAR VISION. YOUR VISION

Flashes/Floaters

Key Points

  1. Floaters are a common problem that many people understand because they have experienced them.

  2. 70% of people over 70 years old will have a floater
  3. These effect men and women but oddly more often women
  4. Flashes are also very common
  5. Both can be a "warning" sign for a more concerning problem so we take all new cases seriously.
  6. For anyone with new floaters/flashing, they should get a full dilated eye exam.

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Not all flashes and floaters are the same as the a number of reason for them. The most concerning is that they are a sign of a retinal detachment. The retina is the neuro-sensory tissue in your eye that allows the eye to understanding the light that creates what you see. If this tissue is detached it won't get the nutrition it needs and can become unhealthy or dead tissue. Dead retinal tissue won't regenerate and will lead to permanent vision change or blindness. This is why we take all flashes and floaters seriously and why for any new and extended episode of flashes and floaters, we strongly encourage you seek a visit with an eye specialist for a comprehensive dilated exam.

Despite the seriousness of a retinal detachment and understanding why we should not take these signs lightly, flashes and floaters more often are not a sign of a structural problem. Floaters are often more benign and are the result of a change in the jelly within your eye (vitreous). They are a permanent change but your awareness of them will fade with time.  

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