Many people notice floaters and flashes associated with their vision. Floaters are often comprised of material left over from when the eye was formed. They can also be caused by deterioration of vitreous fluid or by injuries.

They appear as small specks or particles floating inside the eye. Shapes can vary—they may look like strings, insects, or other shapes. You normally don’t notice floaters until they sometimes move into your line of sight. They may be more common against light backgrounds, or with bright illumination.

Flashes occur as either quick or long bursts of light. They tend to occur more often in low-light situations or in darkness.

Typically, floaters and flashes are not usually causes for concern if they are occasional and not distracting. However, if they start occurring with frequency or worsen, consult an eye care professional immediately. Flashes may be caused by vitreous collapse, a condition where the vitreous begins to pull away from the retina. This can be extremely serious.


The first step for treatment of floaters or flashes is a comprehensive eye exam, which often reveals the source of the issue. Floaters and flashes are sometimes a symptom of vitreous collapse, a serious condition.

If the exam indicates the overall health of the eye is sound, no other treatment is necessary. If there’s a potential problem, the eye may need examination periodically to see if there have been any changes in the vitreous or retina. If a problem is identified, the patient may need to consult a retina specialist.

For an appointment, call DiStefano Eye Center at (423) 648-3937. Or click here to contact us online.