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What Are Floaters?

You may sometimes see small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision. They are called floaters. You can often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall or blue sky.

Floaters are actually tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear jelly-like fluid that fills your eye.

Flashes and Floaters Diagram

While these objects look like they are in front of your eye, they are actually inside. What you see are the shadows they cast on the retina, the nerve layer at the back of your eye that senses light and sends images to your brain.

What Causes Floaters?

When people reach middle age, the vitreous gel may start to thicken or shrink, forming clumps or strands inside the eye. The vitreous gel pulls away from the back wall of the eye, causing a posterior vitreous detachment. This is a common cause of floaters.What Floaters Look Like

You should see an ophthalmologist right away if you suddenly develop new floaters. A floater that suddenly appears may indicate a torn retina.

What Causes The Appearance Of Flashing Lights?

When the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina, you may see what look like flashing lights or lightning streaks. You may have experienced this same sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and seen “stars.”

The flashes of light can appear off and on for several weeks or months. If you notice the sudden appearance of light flashes, you should visit your ophthalmologist immediately as this may be signs of a retinal tear or detachment.