Flashes and Floaters

A Sign of Underlying Condition

Flashes and floaters should never be taken lightly until assessed during one of our routine eye exams. If you are experiencing either following a head trauma or some other eye emergency, you should contact us immediately for a diagnosis.

Sometimes new onset of floaters or flashes signals a condition that can lead to vision loss.

The shrinking vitreous can tug on the retina and pull away from it. This event, called a posterior vitreous detachment, is common, and usually doesn't threaten vision. In about one in six people, a posterior vitreous detachment causes the retina to tear. Fluid from inside the eye can then seep through the tear and separate the retina from the tissues that nourish it. This separation, called retinal detachment, can lead to permanent vision loss.

Retinal tears and detachments are painless. Key warning signs include:

  • a new onset of floaters and flashes of light in the eye
  • gradual shading of vision from one side (like a curtain being drawn)
  • rapid decline in sharp, central vision. This occurs when the macula — the area of the retina responsible for central vision — detaches.
Floaters and Flashes l Armstrong Optometry & Associates l Greenwood, Indiana

What to Know


These are caused by some stimulus pulling or tugging at the retina. For example, when the vitreous gel begins to form floaters, they could put at the retinal surface as they form. The source of flashes occurs between the retina itself and the optic nerve, which we can view in exceptionally precise detail thanks to our retinal imaging equipment. If you experience any new instances of flashes, you should come in for an exam. They are not usually a naturally occurring process and may be a result of a developing emergency.


Floaters look like small specks, dots, circles, lines or cobwebs in your field of vision. While they seem to be in front of your eye, they are floating inside. Floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous that fills your eye. What you see are the shadows these clumps cast on your retina.

How We Help

Our practice has decades of experience treating all sorts of eye abnormalities, and flashes are often underestimated. If left unexamined, the root cause will go unidentified and serious effects (such as blindness due to retinal detachment) could occur.


Thanks to the cutting-edge diagnostic equipment in our local Greenwood practice, we can precisely evaluate any flashes or floaters, identifying their cause and severity. We can then recommend treatment or referrals.


Since floaters form at the rear of the eye, a close-up examination of the retina is required. This may involve using dilating eye drops to increase the size of your pupil, improving the optometrist’s ability to take detailed images of the retina.Another means of examining the eye would be using the slit lamp test, which focuses an intense beam of light through a narrow gap, illuminating your eye. Your intraocular (inner eye) pressure may be measured using a process called tonometry, and finally we may perform some tests of your visual acuity.