Floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear gel-like fluid that fills the inside of the eye. While these objects look like they are in front of the eye, they are actually floating inside it – casting shadows on the retina. Floaters, in most cases, are harmless and require no treatment. However, even if you have had floaters for years, you should schedule an eye examination with your ophthalmologist if new ones suddenly appear.
When the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina, you may see what look like flashing lights or lightning streaks. You may have experienced this same sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and seen ‘stars.’ The flashes of light can appear off and on for several weeks or months. As we grow older, it is more common to experience flashes. If you notice the sudden appearance of light flashes, you should contact your ophthalmologist immediately in case the retina has been torn.