Floaters and Flashes

flashes and floaters

This week’s blog on Floaters and Flashes has been contributed by Dr Ammar Safar, Medical Director, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon.

Some people describe seeing little objects of different shapes and sizes occasionally floating in front of them. We call these objects ‘Floaters’ because they seem to float in front of you wherever you look. In fact, these are small fibres located in the vitreous, the jelly-like substance which fills the eye, in front of the retina. It is very common to see these floaters from time to time and they are more likely to be found in near-sighted individuals.

The floaters are usually seen only when looking at a light background such as a white computer screen or blue sky or sea. Typically, the floaters do not increase with time and if they do, it is usually a very slow progression over many years. The only effective treatment is removing the vitreous, through surgery. However, the procedure is rarely performed as floaters are very benign and rarely cause any significant vision loss. They are more annoying than anything else.

There is no other treatment such as drops or medication that will get rid of them. If there is a sudden increase in the number of floaters (5-10 or more new ones appearing) or if there are flashes of light associated with them, then a visit to your ophthalmologist is necessary to check your retina and ensure there are no holes or tears in it.

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