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Eye Floaters & Flashes Specialist

Pacific Eye

Ophthalmologists & Optometrists located on the Central Coast of California

Chances are you’ve experienced eye floaters, vague shapes that suddenly glide across your line of vision, or flashes that you’d recognize by their more descriptive name, “seeing stars.” When one or both of these phenomena suddenly increase in numbers or frequency, they often signal a serious eye problem. The doctors at Pacific Eye, with offices in San Luis Obispo, Lompoc, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, and Santa Maria, California, as well as Optical Concepts in Santa Maria, specialize in emergency eye care and advanced retinal services. Call or schedule an appointment online today.

Eye Floaters & Flashes Q & A

What causes eye floaters?

Floaters appear as fleeting spots or strings that drift across your field of vision. These random shadows are caused by tiny clumps of protein in the vitreous inside your eye.

The vitreous is a gel-like substance that fills the inside of your eye. It helps support the shape of your eyeball and keeps the retina attached to the back of your eye.

Although vitreous is clear, it contains proteins that can bunch together and float in the vitreous. Occasionally, they cast a shadow on the retina, which you see as a floater.

Are floaters dangerous?

Floaters aren’t dangerous when they occur occasionally and disappear. These harmless floaters simply sink to the bottom of your eye and settle out of your line of vision.

However, the sudden appearance of numerous floaters may signal a serious problem such as retinal detachment, an eye injury, or bleeding inside your eye. These conditions, especially a detached retina, are emergencies that need quick medical attention to prevent vision loss. The doctors at Pacific Eye provide a range of retina services and can quickly and accurately diagnose your problem.

What causes flashes?

When light reaches your retina, it’s turned into an electrical impulse that travels through your optic nerve to your brain. When your retina is stimulated, it sends a similar electrical impulse, which your brain interprets, and you see, like a flash of light.

A flash may occur when you bump your head hard enough to affect the vitreous, which stimulates the retina and causes the phenomenon commonly called “seeing stars.”

The sudden onset of flashes, or the appearance of frequent flashes, is a symptom of a torn or detached retina. When you develop floaters and flashes at the same time, it’s a red flag to seek emergency eye care.

How are floaters and flashes treated?

If you experience frequent floaters, or floaters large enough to affect your vision, the team at Pacific Eye may treat them with a laser vitrectomy to remove the vitreous, along with all the floaters, then they replace the fluid. When flashes and floaters signal a detached retina, you’ll need laser eye surgery to reattach the retina.

If you suddenly develop floaters and flashes, or they occur more frequently or in large numbers, call Pacific Eye or use online booking to schedule the next available appointment at one of their six offices in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.