Charles D. Fritch MD,
FACS, is a renowned
ophthalmologist, founder
of Fritch Eye Care Medical
Center, and Medical
Director of a fully equipped
Ambulatory Center.

Fritch Eye Care Medical Center
8501 Brimhall Road, Suite 401 & 402
Bakersfield, CA 93312
Tel: 661-665-2020


Flashes, Floaters & Vitreous Detachments

They Can Be Harmless Or Indicative of Serious Eye Problems

Almost everyone has experienced spots floating in his or her field of vision. Typically, they are seen in the same eye and in the same part of that eye. Sometimes one can make them disappear by merely turning the head, moving the eyes, or blinking. When the spots appear rather fuzzy and seem to be strung together with a web-like thread, they are called floaters.

Flashes are bright points of light that literally flash into the field of vision when the eyelids are closed. They usually appear as tiny dashes forming either an oval or a circle. Flashes come and go in an instant and normally occur in only one eye at a time. They can indicate vitreous detachment or a serious eye disorder.

Both flashes and floaters can be harmless symptoms of aging eyes; or they can be indicators of a serious eye disorder, such as a torn retina.

What Causes Spots & Floaters?

The center of the eye is filled with a clear, jelly-like fluid known as the vitreous humor. Often, small flecks of protein or other natural matter become trapped in the vitreous during the formation of the eye before birth. These particles remain in the vitreous throughout life and are occasionally seen as spots or floaters. Spots and floaters can also be caused by deterioration of the vitreous or the retina as part of the aging process.

Although distracting and annoying, these naturally formed spots and floaters rarely cause loss of vision. However, spots and floaters can also indicate serious retinal problems caused by injury to the head or eye. Serious diseases such as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration may cause spots and floaters. Any of these conditions can lead to a retinal tear or a retinal detachment resulting in a partial or total loss of vision.

What Causes Flashes and Vitreous Detachment?

As one grows older, the vitreous humor that fills the center cavity of the eye begins to shrink. This causes the vitreous to pull away from the retina creating occasional bright bursts of light or flashes that are seen when the eyes are closed.

These flashes usually cease in a matter of days or weeks when the vitreous has fully detached from the retina. Some people will for years continue to see occasional flashes caused by the "loose" vitreous "scraping" against the retina. Usually, this happens when the head is moved suddenly. Except when they are symptomatic of a torn retina, flashes, like most spots and floaters, are normal in an aging eye.

What Is The Treatment For Flashes, Floaters & Vitreous Detachment?

There is no viable treatment for any of these conditions themselves, but there is treatment for the serious eye disorders of which they might be symptomatic: retinal tears or retinal detachments.

A retinal tear can usually be successfully treated by a laser that "tacks" the tear back in place. The procedure takes only a few minutes to perform n the eye doctor's office and is painless.

It is critical that a retinal tear be repaired as soon as possible. Untreated, it could lead to loss of vision. The treatment for a retinal detachment is basically the same as for a retinal tear, but the process is more demanding and the results less certain.

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The physicians of Fritch Eye Care Center specialize in treating Fresno LASIK, glaucoma, and cataracts patients. Using cutting-edge technology in their state-of-the-art medical facilities, these Drs. are considered to be specialists in their field.

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