Flashes & Floaters | Trendy Eyes Optometry
Trendy Eyes Optometry
223 Manhattan Beach Blvd Manhattan Beach CA 90266 +1 310-545-4090
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Manhattan Beach, CA / (310) 545-4090

Flashes & Floaters

Making Sense of Flashes & Floaters

Your body sends you signals to tell you what it needs. Pain is a signal that something is wrong. Hunger is a signal that you need to refuel. Fatigue is a signal that you need to rest. But sometimes our body sends us signals we don’t recognize, like flashes or eye floaters.

It’s important to get acquainted with these signals, so we know what they mean, and how to handle them.


To understand floaters, you first need to understand the vitreous.

The Vitreous

The inside of your eyeball is filled with something called the vitreous. When you’re born, the vitreous has a consistency that is similar to a gel. As you grow older, however, the vitreous slowly becomes a liquid. The dissolution process doesn’t happen completely evenly, so sometimes solid pieces of vitreous end up floating in the liquid vitreous.

What Is a Floater?

The term floater refers to small shapes that appear in the outer margins of your vision. They can be round, clumpy, or stringy. These shapes are really just reflections of the undissolved pieces of vitreous floating around inside your eye.

Should I Be Concerned?

For the most part, floaters are normal. The only time you should be concerned is when you notice sudden changes in your floaters. If you’re suddenly seeing way more floaters, or floaters that are entirely different in size or shape than what you’re used to, it could indicate a problem. If you suddenly see a downward shower of floaters, seek immediate medical attention, as you may be experiencing a retinal detachment or tear.


To understand flashes, you first need to understand the retina.

The Retina

A large portion of the inside of your eye is covered with an intensely sensitive system of tissues called the retina. When light hits the retina, it becomes stimulated, sending an impulse to the optic nerve. That impulse travels through the optic nerve to the brain where it’s then interpreted as an image.

What Is a Flash?

Because the retina is so sensitive, it can be stimulated by anything touching, jostling, or jarring it. As you age, the vitreous shrinks and moves away from the retina. Sometimes this movement tugs at the retina, stimulating the sensitive tissue, and sending an impulse that your brain then interprets as a sudden flash of light.

Flashes can also happen as the result of a blow to the head, or a sudden jerking motion. Anything that moves your retina is likely to cause a flash.

Should I Be Concerned?

Occasional flashes are normal as you get older; it’s just an indication that your vitreous is retreating. But if you start to notice repetitive flashes or flashes that come in waves, you need to seek immediate medical help. This is especially true if you also see a sudden downward shower of floaters, or a dark curtain seems to descend over your vision through one eye. These symptoms could indicate a retinal tear or detachment; both of which are medical emergencies.

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223 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach,
CA 90266, USA

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