I Have Vision Floaters – Should I be Concerned?

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Three of the most common visual stimuli our patients describe are floaters, splotches/dots, and flashes of light in their visual field. These have varying etiologies, and, while typically harmless, should be reported to your eye doctor.

Floaters

Most people report, at some point in their lives, floaters in their field of vision. These are aptly named, as they are ghostlike images that float in front of your eyes as you try to focus. These are typically small and can stand out when you are looking at a bright wall or the sky. Floaters should not interfere with your vision by their size, which can even create shading or shadowing effects. You should not have pain, and if you notice a sudden increase in floaters, report asap. They should come and go, rather than staying constantly, which also bears noting to a vision professional.

While most floaters look like a string or thread, other forms include rings, dots (usually black or gray), lines that look like squiggles, or even a clear variety that can take on shapes like old erector sets with knobs.

The most common cause of floaters is aging, with most of them being reported after 50 years of age. It is important to note that even children can see floaters, but they don’t often know how to describe the sensation.

Other, more serious and rare causes for floaters include diseases of the eyes, tumors, or injuries, to name a few.

Splotches/dots

These can either be a type of floater or, in some cases part of an ocular migraine as part of an aura which can precede a migraine by a few hours or up to several days. People with migraines that affect their vision are more likely to report these as part of a migraine’s visual disturbance. Others report bright colors when they close their eyes as part of the aura as well.

Flashes of light

Seeing bright flashes of light, whether brief or sustained, can signal serious eye problems and should be reported to your eye care professionals at Utah Valley Eye – a leader in vision improvement as well as LASIK in Provo.

If you see a sudden increase of odd floaters, splotches, dots, or flashes, you should check in with us and let us know. In this way, we can partner with you to keep your vision crisp and clean, whether you are one of our Provo LASIK surgery patients or not.

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