What are Flashes and Floaters?
Flashes and floaters are common visual sensations that are seen within the field of vision. Floaters is a term that describes dark shadows that move across the field of vision. They can take on different shapes, like dots, specks, circles, and lines. These objects are most obvious when looking at a bright, plain background, like a blue sky. Flashes describe sudden bursts of light that are seen within your peripheral vision and are most visible in a dark setting. Flashes and floaters often occur together and are usually harmless, but they can be symptoms of abnormal changes within your eye that can lead to serious issues, like blindness. If you have been experiencing flashes and floaters or have recently noticed an increase in their occurrences, contact Stone Oak Ophthalmology Center in San Antonio, TX to schedule an eye exam. Our board-certified ophthalmologists, Dr. Allison Young and Dr. Jana Waters, are highly trained and experienced in diagnosing flashes and floaters and can guide you on how to best care for your eyes to preserve your best vision.
"I am so please that I was recommended to this office as well to Dr. Allison Young. The office and the personal are professional and cheerful. I have Sjögren’s Syndrome which drys everything in your body. I honestly though I was going blind and I was seeing another ophthalmologist in a huge chain operation and it seems like I was going in every three months. I honestly couldn’t see. Dr Young saw me on the first visit and explained that I had a very large cataract in my right eye and it needed to be removed. I was extremely petrified but Dr. Young has the type of additive you want every Doctor to have. It was such an easy operation for me, Dr. Young said that it was so big it took her awhile to get it out. The difference was amazing I see amazing I was so amazed how little I was seeing before. So excited to get the other eye done. The after care was just as through as the pre-op. I recommend this Ophthalmology Center and Dr. Young. Today is January 8th of 2021 and the day before this I had a very gritty feeling in my right eye when I woke up. Just thinking it was my Sjogren's I put in the eye drops and it helped but I had double vision for the day. Knowing I could call Stone Oak Ophthalmology and find out if I need to see a Dr or just find out what I could do. They wanted to get me in but I live a across town and they got me an appointment right away the next day. I saw Dr. Whitney and just like Dr. Young, she took her time took the tests (she explained each test and her reason for taking them) and ended up finding out that I had Shingles in my right eye. I was then told it was a very good thing that I came in because it could be worse the longer you wait. I trust this office and my eye health whole heartily. I have always been treated with respect, professionalism, COVID responsible and I know my appointment was done to it's fullest to help both of us to understand what is happening with my eyes. Again I was afraid my eyesight was going to be gone and I have walked in there and them out knowing everything was being done that could be done. I also got to meet another one of these wonderful Doctors. Thank you Dr. Whitney, I'm not thrilled with having Shingles but thank you for informing me that getting the Shingles Shot is not a 100% it just makes it less infectious. I maybe miserable but it could of been a lot worse with out your insisting we do the testing and your hands on care it could be worse. If you are someone who needs an Ophthalmologist this is the group to go to."- R.P. / Google / Jan 08, 2021
"I love Dr. Young she’s definitely a great professional and friendly! Her concerns for my eye health is a priority. The Office Staff is professional and friendly too. I would highly recommend her."- C.E. / Facebook / Jul 15, 2020
"I am so please that I was recommended to this office as well to Dr. Allison Young. The office and the personal are professional and cheerful. I have Sjögren’s Syndrome which drys everything in your body. I honestly though I was going blind and I was seeing another ophthalmologist in a huge chain operation and it seems like I was going in every three months. I honestly couldn’t see. Dr Young saw me on the first visit and explained that I had a very large cataract in my right eye and it needed to be removed. I was extremely petrified but Dr. Young has the type of additive you want every Doctor to have. It was such an easy operation for me, Dr. Young said that it was so big it took her awhile to get it out. The difference was amazing I see amazing I was so amazed how little I was seeing before. So excited to get the other eye done. The after care was just as through as the pre-op. I recommend this Ophthalmology Center and Dr. Young."- R.M. / Google / Jun 02, 2020
"Dr. Whitney is excellent, caring and very professional. Her staff is professional, helpful and caring. Dr. Whitney’s surgery provided me with a 20/20 vision and I’m very grateful for that. I highly recommend."- R.C. / Google / Nov 27, 2020
"Dr. Teresa Whitney performed cataract surgery on both my left and right eyes in August 2020, and she did an absolutely AWESOME job! Like many, I was terrified of the procedure, and had deferred it for many years, until I was nearly blind - OK, I was legally blind. With GREAT anxiety, I submitted myself to Dr. Whitney's care, and I emerged from the first surgery absolutely amazed at the results. I was back her table a week later for the other eye, FAR less concerned with both the procedure and the outcome. I am now 20:20 in both eyes, no longer need glasses of any kind, and have for the first in over a decade, had the eyeglass restriction removed from my driver's license! I can honestly say, I'm very sorry that I have but only two eyes, or I'd be a repeat patient. Thank you, Dr. Whitney, for restoring my eyesight!!"- M.D. / Google / Sep 14, 2020
When to see a doctor
Flashes and floaters typically arise with advanced age but can also be present in young patients as well. They are common occurrences that are not generally a cause for alarm, and they don't cause any pain. However, when they become prevalent and increase in number or size, that is usually when it's time to see an ophthalmologist. Other concerns to watch out for include:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- The development of a large, chronic dark shadow
- Constant flashes of light
- A sudden appearance of many small floaters
Flashes and floaters generally develop as we get older. Floaters are actually small particles that are suspended in the gel-like structure that fills the eye between the lens and retina. This is known as vitreous fluid or the vitreous body. The objects we see within our visual field are the shadows that are cast on the retina by these small particles. As we age, the vitreous fluid begins to thicken and shrink, which creates particles or floaters. The shrinkage or change of the vitreous body is what causes flashes. When the vitreous body pulls away from the retina, it is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). In these cases, surgery may be necessary.
During a comprehensive eye exam, our ophthalmologists can determine the underlying cause of your floaters and flashes and decide if any treatment is necessary. Most of the time, these are not a cause for serious concern, but if you have damage to your retina, surgery may be needed. Retinal tears are typically improved or corrected with laser therapy. While floaters may still occur after treatment and will remain in cases that do not require surgery, they often become easier to ignore over time and most patients will learn how to move their eyes to shake the shadows out of the field of vision. Routine eye exams are encouraged to monitor your ocular health.
Repair and relief
Although flashes and floaters may seem scary, most of the time, they are not a cause for serious concern. It is important to undergo annual eye exams so you can be familiar with what is normal and abnormal for your vision. Our seasoned ophthalmologists can also assess your eyes to determine if there is any damage to your retina or a need for surgical intervention. We encourage you to reach out to Stone Oak Ophthalmology Center in San Antonio, TX so we can help you understand your ocular health and answer any questions you may have regarding your vision.