Seeing an occasional floater in one or both eyes is fairly common, and not necessarily a sign of a problem. When you see a floater (what appears to be a small speck, shape, or spot in your field of vision), what you’re actually “seeing” is the shadow of a clump of small fibers as they pass or “float” past your retina.

Floaters develop from the vitreous gel in the eye, which becomes more fluid as people get older. Floaters are often harmless, but in some cases, they may indicate a problem with the retina, which could potentially affect your vision.

At Tayani Institute, Dr. Ramin Tayani, Dr. Peter Joson, Dr. Rebecca Ng, and our team of expert providers offer comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options for eye injuries and vision-related problems across 10 convenient locations throughout Southern California. Below, we’ve put together a guide on the possible causes of flashes and floaters. If you have concerns, we encourage you to come see us.

When to worry about flashes and floaters

The occasional floater is usually not a cause for concern, especially if your eyes are healthy and you don’t suffer from any known vision problems. Age-related changes in the eye, for example, commonly cause floaters.

Other factors that could contribute to floaters in one or both eyes include:

  • Inflammation
  • Cataract surgery
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • A traumatic eye injury
  • Being nearsighted

Floaters are usually a sign of a problem if they suddenly increase in frequency, if you’re seeing a lot more of them at once, and if they’re also occurring with flashes of light and other symptoms like eye pain or obstructions in your peripheral vision.

Retinal tears

A sudden onset of multiple floaters and issues with your peripheral vision can be a sign of a tear in the retina. A torn retina can be repaired, but it’s important to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible to prevent it from fully detaching, which could lead to permanent vision loss.

Retinal tears can occur spontaneously as the vitreous gel becomes watery or changes shape and begins to detach from the retina. Other factors like trauma, family history, or an earlier eye injury can increase the risk of retinal detachment.

The best way to preserve your vision and protect your ocular health, especially as you age, is to schedule regular eye exams in order to catch and treat problems as soon as possible before they put your vision at risk.

If you’re experiencing floaters or flashes, or notice other symptoms or changes to your vision, use our online scheduling tool to request an appointment for an eye exam at any of our 10 convenient locations throughout California in San Clemente, Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, Oceanside, Irvine, Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear Lake, Costa Mesa, Needles, and Blythe.

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