Flashes and Floaters

Diagram of Floaters in the eye


Small specks of protein and other matter get trapped during the formation of the eye before birth and remain in the eyes, leaving spots. If the vitreous (clear gel-like substance inside the eye) shrinks and pulls on the retina, flashes of light occur making spots noticeable. The pulling movement stimulates the retinal receptor cells to “fire” and causes the perception of light flashes.

Vitreous floaters are sometimes seen as threadlike strands in the patient’s visual field. Typically these lines/spots float or drift as the eye moves

Risk factors

While most people see a few spots on occasion, they can occur more frequently and become more noticeable with age.

Simulation of vision with floaters


Spots and floaters are the specks and threadlike strands that drift across a person’s field of vision. They appear often with flashes of light.


Flashes and floaters are not generally a serious condition needing treatment, but they can be symptoms of vitreous or retinal detachment; both of which are serious conditions. In either of these cases, treatment with lasers and/or surgical intervention may be necessary to protect vision.

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