Willoughby Doctors of Optometry
130, 20728 Willoughby Town Centre Dr Langley Twp BC V2Y 0P3 (604) 371-1214
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(604) 256-7681

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Langley, BC

What Causes Eye Flashes and Floaters

Example of vision of a person with floaters.They may look like strings or specks in front of you,

Have you ever seen flashes of light in your peripheral vision or small objects that seem to move around your field of vision? These are known as eye flashes and floaters. There are many possible causes of eye flashes and floaters, both eye-related such as retinal detachment or tear, and non-eye-related such as migraine. 

This blog post will discuss what causes eye flashes and floaters, when to worry, and how Willoughby Doctors of Optometry can help

What Are Flashes & Floaters


Flashes are usually an indication that something is happening inside your eye. The optic nerve sends electrical impulses from the eye to the brain. Every so often, your retina mistranslates a bump or a change in velocity and sends that information to the brain, which translates it as a flash of light. It’s completely normal and harmless, so don’t worry if you experience them from time to time. 


Floaters appear when tiny pieces of tissue or clumps of cells become lodged within the vitreous gel inside your eyeball. As we age, the vitreous gel that makes up the inner contents of your eyeball becomes more fluid.

The change in consistency can cause collagen fibres to float through your line of sight. They may look like strings or specks in front of you that you cannot focus on properly—you’re seeing the shadows these particles cast on your retina. Again, this is normal and usually nothing to worry about. However, if floaters suddenly become significantly worse or if they appear along with flashes, it could indicate a retinal tear or vitreous detachment—in which case you should seek medical attention immediately.

A close-up of an elderly woman closing her eyes to refocus her eyesight because she is seeing floaters.  The most common cause of eye flashes and floaters is age-related and considered normal and does not usually require any treatment.

What Causes Eye Flashes & Floaters

Eye-Related Causes

The most common cause of eye flashes and floaters is age-related change in the vitreous jelly that fills the eyeball cavity. As we age, this jelly begins to liquefy and eventually separate from the retina. This separation can cause little “floaters” to appear in our field of vision, along with flashes of light or dark spots. These age-related changes are considered normal and do not usually require any treatment. 

Another possible cause of eye flashes and floaters is retinal detachment or tear. You should see your doctor immediately if you notice more than just a few floaters accompanied by bright flashes or lightning streaks. These can be signs of a serious medical condition, such as a retinal detachment or tear. 

Non-Eye-Related Causes 

There are also numerous non-eye-related causes for eye flashes and floaters. One example is migraines, which can cause bright lights or zig-zag lines across your field of vision and floating spots known as “migraine scotomas.”

Other non-eye-related causes include anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, head trauma, certain medications, alcohol use or abuse, and vitamin deficiencies such as B12 deficiency. 

When To Worry About Eye Flashes & Floaters 


Flashes can be random or regular, but if they become frequent without any explanation, you should seek medical advice immediately, as this could signify a retinal tear or detachment.


Floaters are very common, and most people have them from time to time, but if you suddenly notice more floaters than usual, it could be a sign that something more serious is going on, such as a torn retina. 

Identifying and Treating Eye Flashes & Floaters for Optimal Vision Health

Anytime you experience eye flashes or floaters, you should make an appointment with an ophthalmologist to check your eyes, especially if you have any other symptoms, such as blurred vision or headaches accompanying them.

In most cases, they will not require any treatment, but it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry when preserving your sight!

Understanding the potential causes for these visual disturbances can help you better recognize when something more serious might be happening so that you can seek proper medical attention.

With this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to keep those pesky eye flashes and floaters at bay!

Caring for Your Vision

Our Willoughby Doctors of Optometry team cares about protecting and preserving your vision health. We are here to help ensure that happens! Contact us today if you experience any sudden vision changes, even if they seem minor, so we can diagnose any potential issues quickly!

Our Practice

We would love to meet you in person.

Drop by our office and say hello. We require 24 hrs notice for cancelled appointments or a reasonable $50 no show fee will apply.

Willoughby Doctors of Optometry

130 - 20728 Willoughby Town Centre
Langley, BC V2Y 0P3

Contact Information

Phone: 604-371-1214
Fax: 604-371-1215
Email: [email protected]

Clinic Hours

Monday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Tuesday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Wednesday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM - 7:30 PM
Friday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Saturday 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sundays Closed

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