The vitreous humour is the clear, jelly-like fluid that makes up 75% of the eye’s volume and is largely responsible for maintaining the eye’s shape. The vitreous is also tightly held to the retina, and as we age, it can shrink and pull away from the retina, leading to vitreous detachment. When this happens, it can cause floaters and flashes.
- Floaters: As we age and the vitreous shrinks, the collagen and proteins in it become fibrous and stringy and can float around in the fluid, casting shadows on the retina. These floaters can look like specks of dust or small bugs that dart away as you try to look at them.
- Flashes: Sometimes, floaters are accompanied by bright flashes of light. These flashes occur when the vitreous pulls away from the retina. The symptoms of vitreous detachment are similar to retinal detachment, which can compromise vision, so it’s important to see an optometrist if you’re experiencing flashes.
Although floaters and flashes are more of a nuisance than a risk to eye health, if you’re experiencing a sudden onset of flashes or floaters, please book an urgent appointment, so we can rule out anything more serious, such as a retinal detachment.