LAGUNA HILLS • SAN CLEMENTE
Orange County, California
800-974-EYES (3937)

Floaters and Flashes

Small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision as you look at a blank wall or a clear blue sky are known as floaters. Most people have some floaters normally but do not notice them until they become numerous or more prominent.

In most cases, floaters are part of the natural aging process. Floaters look like cobwebs, squiggly lines or floating bugs, and appear to be in front of the eye, but are actually floating inside. As we get older, the vitreous-the clear gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye-tends to shrink slightly and detach from the retina, forming clumps within the eye. What you see are the shadows these clumps cast on the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer lining the back of the eye.

The appearance of flashing lights comes from the pulling of the vitreous gel on the retina at the time of vitreous separation. Flashes look like twinkles or curved lightning streaks in the peripheral vision. They are most visible when the eye quickly moves left and right in a dark environment. Floaters can be very bothersome, most often affecting reading. Try looking up and then down to move the floaters out of the way. Most floaters will eventually go away, but this process may take several months to occur.

Flashes Floaters Orange County specialists

When to be concerned:

When floaters or flashing lights occur for the first time, they may be a signal that a tear has occurred in the retina.

A torn retina is a serious problem. It can lead to a retinal detachment and blindness. For this reason, we recommend a thorough examination of the retina soon after floaters or flashing lights begin. Also, if floaters significantly increase or become much larger, or if a dark curtain begins to move toward the center of vision, we recommend calling our office immediately.


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Harvard Eye Associates
Laguna Hills Office

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24401 Calle de la Louisa
Suites 300-312
Laguna Hills, California 92653

949-951-2020
FAX: 949-356-1660
Harvard Eye Associates
San Clemente Office

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665 Camino de los Mares
Suites 102-103
San Clemente, California 92673

949-493-5411
FAX: 949-356-1660

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