Flashes/floaters / retinal detachment
The vitreous jelly often shrinks naturally over time and as it does so it can tug on the retina and produce a flash of light, different to the sorts of zig zag lights seen during a visual migraine. Natural ageing changes to the structure of the jelly sees it break up into little fibrils which clump together in the clear jelly and cast a shadow on the retina known as a floater.
If a large number of floaters develop suddenly, or a particularly large one occurs it is best to check there has been no damaging tug to the retina resulting in a possible bleed of a vessel or a retinal tear or hole. If flashes of light continue and a shadow develops in the visual field a retinal tear or detachment may be indicated.
Under the provision of NI PEARS we can examine flashes and floaters at no charge. The retina will be carefully examined under a dilated pupil, so if you come to see us it is important not to drive to your appointment.
If a retinal tear is detected we will liaise with the eye casualty team and have you seen immediately for either surgical repair or laser treatment to restore your retinal function. Prompt treatment will give a better visual outcome so if you have any concerns that you are developing flashes or large new floaters please phone us immediately.
If no tear is detected we will give you the appropriate advice and monitor for any changes.