HealthSheets™


Treating Flashes and Floaters

Heathcare provider examining older man's eyes with slit lamp.

Most often, seeing a few flashes and floaters is normal. Also, some people may notice them for a while after eye surgery. Most flashes and floaters need no treatment. But sometimes they can be signs of a serious eye problem.

When do flashes need treatment?

Flashes that appear all of a sudden or greatly increase in number may be a sign of a problem. They may be caused by the vitreous pulling on the retina. A retinal tear needs urgent treatment because it can cause the retina to detach from the back of your eye. Rapid vision loss can result. Your eye healthcare provider can find the cause of flashes and decide if treatment is needed.

When do floaters need treatment?

A sudden increase in the number of floaters you see may be a sign of a tear in the retina or of some other eye problem. Over time, a tear can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye. Your eye healthcare provider can find out what is causing the floaters and suggest a treatment plan, if needed.

Warning signs

If you have a sudden increase in floaters or flashes, or if part of your vision is missing, see your eye healthcare provider right away. These may be symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment, which can cause loss of vision. You will need a complete, dilated eye exam to determine the problem.

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