Eye Flashes & Floaters

Eye flashes are irritating flashes of light that take place over milliseconds in the corner of your eye before vanishing. These flashes are a sudden bright light that occurs within the visual field of the eye. They could be interpreted as flashes of lightning or a brief flame, as they tend to vanish after only a few seconds at most. They occur haphazardly and are often noticed at night or in a darkened room, and they can be accompanied with eye floaters or independently.

Floaters are the small dark flecks that float around in your vision and move each time you attempt to focus on them. Floaters are sometimes mistaken for objects in the distance or in your eye. Floaters can take any shape, ranging from lines to dots to irregular patterns. They can be silvery or dark in color. They are usually perceived as dots, cobwebs, or lines across the field of vision, especially when looking at something uniform, such as the sky or while reading.

In most cases, eye flashes and floaters are not unsafe to the eye; they are more of a disturbance or annoyance. At first, you may become worried when you notice floaters, but it doesn't take long to adapt to them, and they will soon go unnoticed. However, if you discover a large number of floaters, or many of them occur in a very short timeframe, then it is advisable for you to consult your doctor, as this can be an indication of something more severe.

CAUSES

The primary cause of eye flashes and floaters is the shrinking/contracting of the vitreous gel in the eye. This creates strands and clumps in the humor, producing obstructions between light sources and the retina. Collagen is a protein that constitutes the vitreous gel inside the eyeball – the fluid which sits behind our eye. As we age, the collagen strands liquefy, shrink, and break loose, causing the eye floaters that we see. As the floaters move around in the eyeball, these fibers cast shadows on the retinal surface. Consequently, the production of shadows occurs in our vision.

Eye flashes occur when the vitreous humor rubs against the retina. Eye flashes can also be associated with migraine headaches. These flashes can affect a person's vision for up to twenty minutes, appearing as spiked lines in the two eyes. This is more common in myopic individuals and in those who have had YAG laser surgery of the eyes, or in people who suffer from eye inflammation or have incurred eye injuries.

These few symptoms may suggest that eye flashes or floaters are indicative of something more severe:

  1. A sudden increase in the number of floaters in the eye.
  2. Associated loss of vision or a gray curtain.
  3. Increased flashes of light accompanied by floaters.

To determine if the problem is serious, consult an optometrist to set up an eye exam as soon as possible.

REMEDIES

1. Seek Medical Advice

If eye flashes or excessive floaters develop, it is essential to consult an eye care specialist. Typically, eye floaters are benign, but if they appear together with flashes, they can indicate a serious underlying problem.

2. Eye Exercises

Exercising regularly keeps the body in optimum condition and this is equally true of your heart, brain, and eyes. Eye exercises may reduce flashes and floaters by bringing energy and circulation to the parts of the eyes that need it most. One of the best ways to cure eye floaters is by strengthening the eye.

Make sure you consult your eye care specialist before engaging in any eye exercise program to make sure your eyes are strong and healthy enough to carry out the exercises. An eye examination is recommended to indicate whether there are any underlying medical issues associated with your current eye condition.

3. Antibiotics and Vitamins

Antibiotics are usually prescribed for eye floaters. However, this medication can only be applied if floaters have appeared as a direct result of eye infection or eye inflammation.

Vitamins and iodine products are known to help with floaters, but the result depends on the individual. Vitamins A, C, and D are important additions which, when obtained naturally (i.e., from sunshine and whole foods), are also helpful in reducing eye floaters.

Food sources such as soy, nuts, and fish are elements of healthy-vision diets and should be incorporated into our daily meals instead of poultry, red meat, or dairy products. Fruits and vegetables should also be consumed, while tea, alcohol, and coffee should be eliminated. Fruits such as green peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and white potatoes belong to the nightshade family of fruits and as such should be avoided.

4. Possible Surgery

A vitrectomy is a surgical process that involves the removal of the vitreous humor and the replacement of the natural gels with a synthetic saline solution.

There is also a laser procedure in which a surgical laser is used to remove floaters within the eye. This procedure is quite expensive, however, and can have serious complications such as:

  • a high possibility of causing cataracts
  • permanent blind spots
  • severe eye infection
  • retinal detachment

Therefore, it is crucial to consider all options before deciding on surgery.

AVOIDANCE

The popular saying goes "prevention is better than a cure." Some of the ways you can avoid eye disorders are abstaining from alcohol, smoking, and drug abuse.

Protecting your eyes to avoid any blunt trauma is another important way to avoid floaters; physical damage such as being hit in the eye accidentally or intentionally is a very common cause of floaters.

A regular eye examination will help detect any eye disorder, including flashes and floaters, in its earliest stage. Make sure you always consult an eye care specialist whenever you feel even the slightest pain/change in your eye.