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Flashes & Floaters

What are Flashes and Floaters?

Treating Flashes and Floaters at Carter Eye Center in Dallas, TX- Have you ever looked up at the sky and seen squiggly wormlike visions? Maybe you see it as black specks or DNA looking strands? These are typically called flashes and floaters. You can often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall or blue sky. Floaters are actually tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. Although the floaters appear to be in front of the eye, they are actually floating in the vitreous fluid inside the eye. What you see are the shadows they cast on the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and allows you to see. Floaters can have different shapes: little dots, circles, lines, clouds or cobwebs.

What causes Floaters?

Floaters occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape, slowly shrinks. As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina. These are floaters. In most cases, floaters are part of the natural aging process and simply an annoyance. They can be distracting at first, but eventually tend to "settle" at the bottom of the eye, becoming less bothersome. They usually settle below the line of sight and do not go away completely.

Other causes of floaters (more serious)

  • Infection
  • Inflammation (uveitis)
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Retinal tears
  • Injury to the eye


Symptoms of Flashes and Floaters

  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Specks floating in the central vision