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It is common for patients to complain of small specks or dots that can be seen against a bright background such as a diffusely illuminated wall or the blue sky. Sometimes these images can be described as floating amoebas or twig-like cellar patterns that you may see in a microscope. These floaters move around and are also called 'muscae volitantes' because they seem to dart about like flies as the eye is moved. Over time you will become less aware of these floaters as the brain learns to ignore these retinal images. Therefore, while some floaters may remain in your vision, many of them will fade over time and become less annoying. Floaters may be annoying but do not cause any problems. However if a new floater comes on abruptly or if there is a sudden increase in the number of floaters, then you must be examined immediately to rule out a retinal tear.
With age, your vitreous gel may shrink, forming tiny clumps inside your eye. As the shrinking occurs, tugging on the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye can cause flashes. Floaters are simply the shadows cast on the retina by the resulting clumps.
If you think you are experiencing a bad case of flashes and floaters and you would like to have your retina examined for a potential tear please call us immediately at 888.708.3937. If light flashes are due to a posterior vitreous separation and no retinal breaks (tears) are found on careful examination with the pupil dilated, no treatment is necessary. If a tear is present and found by the doctor, laser or occasionally freezing (cryo) treatment is needed.