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Flashers and Floaters

Everyone gets flashers and floaters at some stage.

The bulk of the inside of the eye is made up of a gel called the vitreous. As we age the gel starts to liquefy in the centre, in fact the rule of thumb is that when you’ve lived half your life, you’ve lost half the gel inside your eyes.

The gel then starts to contract in on itself and often suddenly detaches from the retina. This is called Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD). This happens to everyone at some stage, we just want to make sure that only the gel has come away and not the retina too.

When PVD occurs, you’ll notice light flashes to the side of your vision and a sudden increase in floaters. We should see you for a thorough eye exam that same day if possible. We need to make sure you don’t have a retinal detachment that would require urgent surgery or retinal tear that would require urgent laser repair. We are very concerned if you notice a shower of black dots or if you notice a curtain in front of your vision.

90% of people we see with PVD, simply have PVD. 10% will have a tear or detachment that requires urgent referral to a retinal surgeon. The risk of retinal tear/ detachment is much higher in myopic (short sighted) people as they have a longer eyeball and a thinner retina.