Floaters and Flashers

The middle of the eye is filled with a clear vitreous gel that is attached to the retina. As we age, the vitreous gel thins and slowly pulls away from the back of the eye. Floaters and flashes are common symptoms of this process. Floaters can also be more common in people who are nearsighted, who have had cataract surgery or an inflammation inside the eye, or who have diabetes.

While floaters and flashes may be bothersome and distracting, they are typically harmless and not sight threatening. Floaters and flashes can, however, be a warning sign of a more serious eye problem, such as a retinal detachment, which requires immediate medical attention. (See “Floaters and Flashes: Emergency Signs” for more information.)

What are Floaters and Flashes?