Flashes in Your Vision

Flashes of light are pinpricks or spots of light that appear in your field of vision. They may look like a lightning streak or a shooting star across your vision.

What are these flashes and should you be worried?

What are flashes of light?

Flashes appear to be from outside, as if you’re seeing a bright spark of light. They actually are coming from inside your eye. There is no outside flash. Most flashes happen when the vitreous gel inside the eye shrinks or changes. This causes a pulling on the retina, the light sensing lining at the back of the eye. Flashes can also occur if you’re hit in the eye or if you rub your eyes overly hard. These actions place pressure on the retina and create flashes.

Some people confuse flashes with the bright spots, lines, or patches that appear and stay in place that are called migraine aura. Migraine aura can appear like shimmering jagged lines or wavy lines, like heat waves. Migraine aura can appear even without the headache.

Flashes are also different from light rays that you may see around lamps, headlights, or streetlights. These are usually a symptom of cataracts or a result of refractive surgery.

Do I need to worry about these flashes?

As we age, it’s not uncommon to get occasional flashes of light. These are harmless, but you should discuss their occurence will us during your next eye exam at Central Valley.

It’s different, however, if you suddenly experience repeated flashes of light. This could be a serious problem, especially if these flashes are accompanied by vision changes. You need to call us right away if:

  • You suddenly start seeing flashes and you have not seen them before
  • You have a sudden increase in flashes of light from your usual number
  • You see flashes of light along with cloudiness or dark spots in your vision
  • You see a dark area of “curtain” across your vision
  • You see flashes of light after being hit in the eye or in the face

Seeing flashes or floaters suddenly can point to a torn or detached retina. This needs immediate attention to prevent vision loss.

If you have any questions about flashes of light in your vision, please call us at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907.

Posted in: Flashes & Floaters


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