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Flashes & Floaters

Floaters appear as dark or transparent spots, lines or cobweb effects. They are usually noticed when looking at a plain surface such as a white wall or a clear blue sky. They are fairly common, even in healthy eyes.

Sometimes the jelly (vitreous) substance which fills the eyeball can shrink as we age and tug on the retina (light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye). This can cause flashes of light at the edge of your vision. These differ from the disturbance of vision that can occur with a migraine.

You should be concerned if you suddenly notice a shower of new floaters, or floaters together with flashes, or a shadow/curtain across your vision, you should seek advice urgently. These symptoms can mean the retina is tearing.

The retina is at the back of the eye. It receives images and sends them to the brain (just like a camera film). If there is a tear, then fluid can get underneath and the retina can detach. This can result in partial or complete loss of vision.

Help and Advice:

  • The sooner the retinal tear/detachment is treated the better chance of visual recovery.
  • A tear can be treated using a laser, but if your retina has become detached you will need surgery

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your local branch immediately. Out with opening hours, contact NHS 24 or go to your local A&E department if necessary.

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