Flashes and Floaters Floaters, sometimes called spots, are small, cloudy particles that float within the vitreous. The vitreous is a clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inner portion of your eyes. Floaters are usually harmless and are seen by many people at one time or another. They may look like dark specks of various shapes and sizes. They are frequently visible when you are looking at a plain lighted background like blank pastel walls, a blue sky or the white pages of a book. Sometimes flashes or streaks of light may appear. This happens because the jelly-like vitreous is shrinking and pulling on the retina.
What causes flashes and floaters? When people are born, the vitreous is firmly attached to the retina, the light-sensitive material in the back of the eye. The vitreous is thick and firm at a young age. As a person ages, the vitreous becomes watery. By your twenties and thirties your vitreous is thin enough to allow clumps to move around in the eye. These clumps then create a shadow over the retina causing the dark spots.
When a person is in their 50’s, the vitreous becomes even thinner and begins to shrink. This causes pulling and tugging on the retina which leads to a flashing sensation.
Seeing little black dots moving in front of your eye
Seeing camera flashes when there is no camera
What you can do
If you experience flashes or floaters you should visit your ophthalmologist to see if they are harmful. The doctor will check to see if you have a torn retina. This can be corrected with surgery. If there is no retinal tear the floaters are not harmful and can become less noticeable over time.