What Are Flashes and Floaters?
Of all macular conditions, you likely have some familiarity with flashes and floaters. Often occurring together, patients describe these as “sparks” or “moving spots” that slide through their vision. Flashes tend to be most apparent in low light; floaters appear when looking at a blank space such as the sky. Flashes and floaters don’t always affect both eyes as the aging process that causes them can happen at a different pace.
Flashes and floaters result from shrinkage in the eye’s vitreous. As the gel-like fluid tugs on your retina, the signals it sends to your optic nerve can be mixed, the vitreous can become thicker, and portions of it can solidify and detach. Even though this condition is normal, you should have it checked to ensure nothing more is happening. Flashes and floaters don’t usually require treatment.
Treatment for Flashes and Floaters
When flashes and floaters begin to impede your vision and restrict your daily activities, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy.
Vitrectomy surgery is an outpatient procedure that replaces vitreous with a special saline solution so that floaters in the vitreous are removed or to reestablish contact with the retina so that flashes are diminished.
Vitrectomy surgery can be used to treat other eye conditions. Generally, patients experience mild pain and discomfort from this procedure that may include wearing an eye patch. It is important to follow all pre- and post-op instructions.