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Floaters and Flashes

Protecting the human eye is such a hardwired instinct that many people never even realize the efforts they naturally take to ensure their vision remains intact. Eyelashes offer protection from dust, wind, and other natural elements. The brow line and eyebrows protect the eyes from perspiration. Tear ducts act as an emergency response unit to quickly flush out any particle that happened to slip by the main defenses. Even sunglasses, while stylish, are designed to protect the eye from potentially harmful or damaging rays from the sun. Despite these natural and synthetic modes of protection, there are still plenty of ways vision can be compromised or threatened.

General Eye Conditions

There are several common eye conditions that may afflict people either from birth or later in life. Complications from various diseases, medications, and even medical treatment can create the unintentional side effect of eye problems, including vision loss. This may be temporary, as in the case of diabetic retinopathy. Other conditions have the potential to result in permanent loss of vision. These conditions typically occur after middle age, and progress rather slowly, but there are always anomalies.

Regardless of the age range, eye conditions and diseases are almost always alarming. However, they are not always a cause for concern. Some of the most common instances that occur within the field of vision are floaters and flashes. Although they may be somewhat of an irritant, neither of these conditions are necessarily harmful to the eye.

Eye Floaters

Floaters are what people typically call the little specks that appear in their field of vision. They may appear to be little cobwebs or have the shape of microscopic bacteria, or some other distinctive shape. They also may sometimes appear to make the vision a little cloudy, especially with a quick turn of the head or after looking away from concentrating on a computer screen or writing tablet after a period of time. This sensation is also more prevalent when looking at a plain horizon, such as a white wall or clear skyline.

At birth, the eye area is filled with a gelatinous substance known as the vitreous, and it gradually loses elasticity with age. This process causes the vitreous to break away from its casing and create little clumps or strands that literally float around the inside of the eyes. These bits of protein moving around create the floaters that people see more commonly as they get older and more of the vitreous breaks away. Generally eye floaters are not cause for concern, but a sudden worsening or increase in the number of floaters could be a symptom of a deeper issue at work.

Eye Flashes

Flashes are often more noticeable and are caused when the vitreous pulls or strains the retina. They create a sudden and fast moving streak of light, similar to a flash of lightning or flashing lights. Most people do experience some cases of seeing floaters and flashes , and this generally increases after age 45 for men and women. Although the flashes are certainly off putting, they are not harmful when experienced infrequently and alone. However, a sudden increase in the frequency or severity of eye flashes could be cause for concern. This could be a symptom of another medical condition, such as the onset of a migraine or a telltale sign of high blood pressure. As for eye health, flashes could be an indication of a retinal tear or detachment. This may have been triggered by a head injury or excessive strain and should be monitored right away.