Floaters, Spots and Flashes

Floaters and spots are specks and particles that can sometimes be seen in the field of vision. Most people see them at some point and they do not cause any problems. However, if they suddenly appear or worsen, then it is important to see your optometrist as this may be a sign of serious problems such as a retinal tear, hole or detachment.

When these sudden appearances of spots occur, one often also observes a flash in their peripheral vision, like a lightning flash.  These flashes occur due to changes in the vitreous (jelly in the eye) creating tension on the retina.  These changes in the vitreous are often associated with a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD).  Most of us will have a PVD at some stage as we age and usually there are no serious consequences.  However, there is a very small chance that a PVD can cause a hole or tear in the retina.

We recommend a prompt comprehensive retinal examination with dilating drops and diagnostic imaging (OCT) if you become aware of these symptoms, to rule out the presence of a retinal tear, hole or detachment.