The retina is a vital part of the eye, and like the rest of the eye, it can become injured or damaged. At Dupage Eye Associates, our eye doctor has the skills and knowledge necessary for treating retinal problems and other eye conditions.
What Are Flashes and Floaters?
Floaters are the spots or strings you occasionally see in your vision. When you try to look at them directly, they seem to float away from you.
Floaters occur when the vitreous in the eye liquefies as you age. The vitreous is a jelly-like substance that helps your eye keep its shape.
The older you get, the more liquid this substance becomes. As this occurs, it causes the vitreous to pull away from your retina.
It creates clumps of debris that cast shadows on your retina. These shadows are seen as floaters.
Other causes of floaters include:
- Air bubbles from eye injections
- Blood cells from bleeding in your vitreous
- Debris released from inflammation in the back of your eye
- A retinal tear, which if this occurs, you need to take care of immediately. Retinal tears can lead to retinal detachment, which can cause permanent vision loss.
Flashes are also caused by your vitreous pulling away from your retina. But rather than floating specks in your vision, flashes are bright lights that look like flashbulbs in your field of vision.
More floaters or flashes than usual or a sudden onset of flashes or floaters could indicate a more severe condition like a retinal tear or detachment. These can be extreme conditions, and you should see an eye doctor immediately.
Loss of Vision
Most retinal diseases and conditions cause some form of vision loss. Treatment is available for some of these conditions. Treatment outcomes depend on how long you have had the condition and what is wrong with your retina.
Retinal diseases and conditions include:
- Retinal tears occur when the vitreous pulls away from your retina, commonly due to aging. Tearing leads to floaters and flashes in your vision.
- Retinal detachments happen when fluid flows through a retinal tear and pulls the retina away from tissue underneath it. Retinal detachments can cause permanent vision loss.
- Diabetic retinopathy is the deterioration of capillaries in the back of your eye and can lead to fluid leaking into and under your retina. This causes swelling in your retina, which can disrupt your vision.
- An epiretinal membrane is a membrane or scar tissue that rests on top of your retina. It can pull up on your retina, causing visual distortions.
- Macular holes are tiny defects in the center of your retina. Causes of macular holes include injuries to your eye or bad traction between your retina and vitreous.
- Macular degeneration is a deterioration of your retina’s center that causes a blind spot in the center of your vision and visual disturbances.
- Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited disease that degenerates the retina. It causes loss of side and night vision over time.
The vitreous is a jelly-like substance in the middle of your eye that helps give your eyeball its round shape. The vitreous fills the space between the lens and the back of the eye. Light focused in your eye travels through the vitreous onto the retina in the back of your eye.
Your vitreous liquefies as you age which causes it to pull away from your retina. When the retina pulls away, this leads to flashes and floaters.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of poor vision after age 60. AMD is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula, a small area in the retina center. It allows us to see fine details clearly and perform activities like reading and driving.
Symptoms of AMD involve loss of the central vision necessary for driving, reading, and recognizing faces. Peripheral vision is unaffected.
Unfortunately, symptoms do not occur until irreversible vision loss has occurred. It is crucial to detect AMD before symptoms arise. That’s why you should have an annual eye exam that includes dilation of your pupils every year after age 60.
If you have diabetes, you know that it can lead to severe eye problems and even blindness. Eye damage from diabetes can even occur months or years after your blood sugar has stabilized.
Early detection can prevent visual loss from diabetes and other retinal conditions. Don’t risk irreversible retinal damage. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Dupage Eye Associates in Downers Grove, IL, today.