Flashes and floaters may occur in individuals as they reach middle age. Patients who are nearsighted may see similar visual symptoms at a younger age. Flashes and floaters may indicate a posterior vitreous detachment, a common event that occurs when the vitreous, the gel-like material inside your eye, separates from the retina, which is the back lining of the eye. When the vitreous gel pulls on the retina, the visual sensation of a light flash is recognized. Floaters may be seen as clumps, cobwebs, dots, and lines.
Vitreous floaters may be indicative of an age-dependent degeneration of the gelatinous vitreous body. Alternatively, the presence of floaters alone or in the presence of flashing lights may suggest bleeding, retinal tearing, retinal detachment, or inflammation. Both symptoms may occur with or without vision loss. An individual who experiences flashes and floaters should contact their ophthalmologist as soon as possible for a careful examination.