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Floaters and Flashes

What are Floaters?

Floaters are small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision. Often, you can see them when looking at a plain background like a blank page, computer screen or a clear blue sky. In reality, floaters are small clumps of cells in the vitreous (the jelly like substance that fills the back of your eye). Floaters are the shadows cast on the retina by these small clumps of cells. Some floaters look like dots or circles, while others look like lines or spider webs, or even clouds.

Treatments Available

Because of the danger of torn retina, call our ophthalmologist if a new floater suddenly appears. While some floaters can remain in your vision for a long period, most will fade over time.

What Causes Floaters? 

Floaters are commonly caused by a posterior vitreous separation, which is when the vitreous gel thickens and pulls away from the back wall of the eye. This is more common in people who are nearsighted or have just undergone cataract surgery.

Are Floaters Serious? 

It is possible for a retinal tear to occur when the vitreous gel pulls away from the back wall of the eye. A retinal tear is serious and you should see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible if:
-new floaters appear suddenly
-you see sudden flashes of light

What Causes Flashes? 

When the vitreous gel rubs or pulls at the retina, a person will sometimes experience what looks like flashing lights. As we grow older, it is more common to see flashes, however, if you notice a sudden onset of flashing light, you should see your ophthalmologist immediately.

Some people see flashes of light, zigzag lines, or a “mirage” in both eyes that can last 10-20 minutes. This is usually caused by spasms of blood vessels in the brain (commonly called a migraine). Migraine headaches are often associated with these flashes of light, but not always.

 

Retinal Detachment Treatment

Surgical Options
There are several ways to fix a retinal detachment. The decision of which type of surgery and anesthesia (local or general) to use depends upon the characteristics of your detachment.

Pneumatic Retinopexy
A gas bubble is injected into the vitreous space inside the eye. The gas bubble pushes the retinal tear closed against the back wall of the eye. Your ophthalmologist will ask you to maintain a certain head position for several days. The gas bubble will gradually disappear.

Scleral Buckle
A flexible band (scleral buckle) is placed around the eye to counteract the force pulling the retina out of place. The ophthalmologist often drains the fluid under the detached retina from the eye, pulling the retina to its normal position against the back wall of the eye.

Vitrectomy
The vitreous gel, which is pulling on the retina, is removed from the eye and usually replaced with a gas bubble. Your body’s own fluids will generally replace the gas bubble.

Detached Retina

What is a Retina? 

The retina is similar to a camera’s film. The retina is a thin nerve layer on the back wall of your eye. It senses this light and transmits the information to your brain via the optic nerve.

What is a detachment? 

The retina can sometimes pull away from its normal position and cause a curtain or veil to be seen in the patient’s vision. This serious condition will almost always cause blindness unless treated. This is usually caused by the vitreous pulling on the retina hard enough to tear it in and lead to retinal detachment.

Warning signs

Early signs of a possible detached retina include:
-Flashes of light
-New floaters
-A gray curtain moving across your vision

While these symptoms don’t always mean you have a detached retina, you should see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

Macular Degeneration Treatment

What are the treatments for macular degeneration?

Nutritional supplements such as zinc and antioxidant vitamins may help reduce the impact of age-related macular degeneration. However, they cannot cure the problem, nor can they restore lost vision. If you are at risk for developing age-related macular degeneration, though, they may help maintain your vision. Laser surgery and photodynamic therapy can help treat certain types of “wet” macular degeneration by slowing or stopping the leaking blood vessels that can damage the macula. Still, these procedures are not cures.

Macular Degeneration

What is macular degeneration?

There is a small area of the retina, at the back of the eye, called the macula. It makes it possible for you to see fine details of objects. When a deterioration of this area occurs, it’s called macular degeneration. It affects the central portion of your vision, but not the peripheral. Macular degeneration does not cause blindness and often has a minimal impact on your vision.

What causes macular degeneration?

Primarily, the process of aging. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common form, but why it develops is unknown. There is “dry” or atrophic macular degeneration, and “wet” or exudative macular degeneration. The dry form causes a gradual vision loss and results from the thinning of the macula tissues. The wet form causes a rapid and severe vision loss and results from the abnormal formation of blood vessels underneath the retina that leak.

What are some symptoms of macular degeneration?

If you find straight lines look distorted, words are blurred or you see dark areas in the center of your vision, you may have macular degeneration. It is typically not noticeable in the early stages. Your ophthalmologist can perform an eye examination to detect the early stages of macular degeneration. You may be alerted to the need for such an examination only when your blurred vision becomes obvious.