At least one person a day either comes to the clinic for floaters or asks about it when being check for another reason. This is understandable because floaters and flashing lights are common and very annoying. Folks commonly say they see spider webs, cobwebs, or a fly that they tried swatting away. Flashes tend to look like lightning streaks.

First, let me reassure you that most of the time they are nothing more than an annoyance. They are caused by jelly in the back part of the eye (called vitreous) that separates from the retina behind it and forms strands in the shape of lines or circles that move around. Over time people notice them less and less but they don’t tend to completely go away.

There really is no good treatment for it. Although you could do surgery, the risks of surgery outweigh its benefits so it’s not advisable in most cases. Research is ongoing to see if the laser can help get rid of them so let’s hope that can become a viable option in the future.

The only time these symptoms become an issue is when there are lots (perhaps hundreds) of floaters with light flashes and curtain or veil coming over the eyes so watch out for that. If you do experience this see an ophthalmologist soon either same day or the following day because these are symptoms of a retinal detachment.

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