Floaters & Flashes


What are those floaters in your eye?The vitreous is a clear gel that fills the space between the crystalline lens and the retina. As you age, the vitreous begins to thin and sometimes separate from the back of the eye. This is known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). As bits of the vitreous gel separate, they may cast shadows on the retina. These shadows are referred to as floaters. These floaters are very common and rarely cause any serious problems.

However, floaters may also be the result of a more serious condition. Floaters may result from retinal tears or detachment, or from an eye disease. Floaters may also present a more serious problem if they are associated with migraine headaches.

Symptoms of Floaters

Floaters may present themselves in various symptoms. These include:

  • Black spots
  • Spider webs
  • Flashing lights or colors
  • Obstructed vision


Flashes occur when the vitreous gel bumps, rubs or tugs against the retina causing an electrical impulse to the brain. Flashes can also be caused by a blow to the head. The result is flashes of light that streak across your field of vision. They can occur with floaters and are more noticeable in dark environments.

When the flashes appear like “heat waves” or jagged lines, they may be caused by a migraine (blood vessel spasms in the brain). They may last 10-20 minutes and may lead to a migraine headache.

Floaters and flashes are generally considered harmless. However, if floaters or flashes are accompanied by other symptoms they may be a sign of a more serious problem. If you are noticing floaters or flashes in your line of vision, contact us today for an evaluation of this visual impairment.

For more information on eye conditions, visit https://www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/index.html

Email or call us today at 303-772-3300 to schedule an appointment to diagnose floaters or flashes in Longmont, Colorado.