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Floaters and Flashes

Floaters are particles that are located in the vitreous cavity (the inside cavity of the eye) and can appear as dots, lines, or cobwebs. They are a natural aging process to the eye, which form the vitreous (the clear, gel like substance that fills the inside of the eye) shrinks and pulls away from the natural attachments to the retina causing clumps within the eye. These clumps cast shadows on the retina, which are visualized as the shapes mentioned previously.

Flashes of light are usually noticed when the vitreous shrinks and separates from the retina. Floaters may be associated 5-10% of the time with retinal tears. When the vitreous shrinks it pulls on the retina and may actually tear a portion of retina in the area of traction. This may then cause the development of a retinal detachment. This is an emergency that requires surgical treatment.


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