What are Flashes and Floaters?
Flashes and floaters are a term used to describe symptoms some people see which may look like lighting flashing in the corner of their vision or black blobs floating in their vision. Sometimes this can be a symptom of a serious eye disease such as retinal detachment and ideally people noticing these should be seen within a couple of days. If you can see a dark shadow or curtain completely blocking part of your vision you should see an eye specialist within 24 hours.
Causes and Symptoms:
Most of the time these symptoms are caused by a posterior vitreous detachment. The vitreous is the jelly that fills the middle of the eye and at some point in most people it will detach from where it was initially attached to the retina. This process, which can be quite gradual, results in a sensation of flashes (particularly on eye movement) and floaters in ones vision. In about 10% of people this process causes a tear in the retina and if not treated may cause a retinal detachment.
A posterior vitreous detachment does not require treatment but a tear in the retina will require treatment usually with laser to the seal the tear. A retinal detachment requires surgery.