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Eye Flashes

Retina Associates of New York

Retina Specialists & Retina Surgeons located in New York, Forest Hills & New Rochelle, NY

Flashes of light in your vision could be a sign that something has gone wrong with your retina. The board-certified retinal specialists at Retina Associates of New York can determine if those brief flashes are related to a retinal tear that may develop into a retinal detachment. These dedicated physicians serve NYC from three locations: Upper East Side, Manhattan; Forest Hills, Queens; and New Rochelle. Each facility offers personalized care and advanced treatment for retinal conditions that may threaten your vision. Schedule an appointment today by calling the nearest office or booking your visit online.

Eye Flashes Q & A

What are eye flashes?

Eye flashes are brief pinpricks or spots of light that occur in your visual field. They’re like the “stars” you may see if you strike your head or arise too quickly from a prone position. People also describe them as quick, lightning-type streaks.

What causes eye flashes?

These flashes of light can be caused by physical force on the retina, such as when you rub your eyes too hard or hit your head. They’re often related to changes in the gel-like fluid (vitreous) that fills the center eye cavity.

As you age, the vitreous shrinks and may pull on the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. This tugging releases brief flashes of light that fade quickly.

Ocular migraines can also cause bright, wavy, lightning-type lines across your visual field, but these last longer than flashes, which typically appear very briefly and then fade.

An increase in eye flashes, especially when accompanied by other symptoms such as a surge in the number of floaters or dark spots that drift across your vision, may indicate a retinal tear or looming retinal detachment.

What is a retinal detachment?

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina pulls away from its normal position at the back of your eye. Because the retina is a necessary component of vision, a retinal detachment can lead to complete loss of sight in the affected eye.

Along with eye flashes and an increased number of floaters, other symptoms that may signal a retinal detachment is occurring include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Gradually reduced side (peripheral) vision
  • A curtain-like shadow over your visual field that may occur centrally or peripherally

Can you treat a retinal detachment?

Yes, the doctors at Retina Associates of New York are well-known for their skill in treating retinal detachment. This requires surgery to drain the vitreous fluid from the eye (vitrectomy) and placement of a gas or silicone oil “bubble” against the retina to press it back into position. To be effective, however, the treatment must occur soon after the detachment, usually within a few days.

Other surgical options may include placement of a silicone buckle to push the wall of the eye back up to the retina.  Partial retinal detachments may respond to noninvasive laser therapy that seals the tear or injection and positioning of a gas bubble that presses the retina into normal positioning.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment, such as increased eye flashes, schedule an appointment immediately at Retina Associates of New York.