Treatment for Floaters and Flashes in Latrobe, PA
You may not know the term floaters or flashes, but they relate to the occasional spots and/or flashes of light which may obscure your vision occasionally. Floaters and/or flashes (sometimes seen as “stars”) are produced internally, not from an external object.
While the occasional occurrence of flashes or floaters is not cause for alarm, in some cases, they could signal more serious eye troubles especially when they appear more suddenly or frequently.
Floaters or Flashes
Most common in those who have had cataract or laser surgery, eye injury, eye inflammation , or those who are nearsighted, floaters and flashers represent two different conditions.
Floaters: These are clumps of cells or other small material that float. They float in a substance known as vitreous humor, a gelatinous like substance that fills the inner portion of the eye. When one of these floating cellular balls travel across our field of vision, it blocks light from hitting our retina.
In general, sight is a result of light bouncing off objects, into our eye and hitting our retina. The retina then turns this light into a signal for the brain, which is then converted into sight. If this light is interrupted or distorted in anyway, vision impairment is typically the end result. In the case of floaters, these cellular balls block light and cast a shadow on the retina, we see these shadows as floating spots.
Flashes: In the case of flashes, the cause is a little more extreme. The entire vitreous humor pulls away from the retina, in a condition known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Having the consistency that the vitreous does and being located in a sealed area, the pulling away of the vitreous humor can be a serious situation. PVD can cause retinal scaring, retinal tearing or even complete retinal detachment. These conditions require immediate medical attention to restore sight.
Causes of Floaters or Flashes
Age plays a role in the formation of many eye issues, including macular degeneration. As we age, hitting middle age particularly, physiological changes take place. In the eyes, the vitreous humor actually becomes smaller. This reduction in size can cause it to pull away from the retina, starting PVD.
The process involves the gradual loss of viscosity to the vitreous humor, meaning it becomes more liquid in the center of the eye once we hit middle age. The liquid center can no longer support the weight of the still gelatin like outer portion along the inner circumference of the eye. The outer portion then falls inward, pulling away from the retina.
A special case of floater involves the detachment of a unique formation of vitreous called the Weiss ring. This condensed vitreous ring surrounds the optic nerve as it attaches to the retina, think of it like a rubber gasket. When the Weiss ring detaches, people describe seeing an “O,” “C” or even “J” shaped object floating in their vision.
Flashes are generated as the vitreous pulls away from the retina, the physical stimulation of the retina is interpreted by the brain as a flash of light. Star like flashes known as photopsia can occur from strong blows to the head, forcing the vitreous to move about. Toxicity from digitalis, a heart medication, may also drive flash formation.
Another type of flash take the form of shapes/flashes sometimes called an aura. This aura is a symptom of a migraine attack. As migraines present in stages, the presence of an aura with flashes can signal the impending arrival of a migraine. The migraine however, may or may not develop with pain. With pain, it’s a typical migraine, without however, it’s called an ocular or ophthalmic migraine.
Treatment of Eye Floaters and Related Retinal Detachment
There is only one treatment option for the removal of floaters, a vitrectomy. In a vitrectomy, the vitreous humor is removed from the eye and replaced with a saline solution. Along with the vitreous humor go the floaters.
If you experience the sudden onset of floaters or flashes, especially in great quantity, seek medical attention immediately. This may signal the development of a tearing retina or one that is detaching.
Request more information about treatment for floaters and flashes today. Call (724) 915-1049 or contact Dr. Emma McGowan online.
Medical Wellness Associates
Jeannette, PA 15644
8:00 am - 7:30 pm
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Wed: 8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
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