• Causes of Floaters and Flashes

    Written by: Kierstan Boyd
    Mar. 10, 2014

    As we grow older, it is more common to experience floaters and flashes. When people reach middle age, the vitreous gel may start to shrink, forming clumps or strands inside the eye. The vitreous gel pulls away from the back wall of the eye, causing a posterior vitreous detachment. This is a common cause of floaters.


    Floaters and flashes are also caused by posterior vitreous detachment, where the vitreous gel pulls away from the back of the eye. This condition is more common in people who:

    • Are nearsighted;
    • Have undergone cataract operations;
    • Have had YAG laser surgery of the eye;
    • Have had inflammation (swelling) inside the eye.
    • Have had an injury to the eye.
    Vitreous detachment

    The appearance of floaters and flashes may be alarming, especially if they develop very suddenly. To find out if a retinal tear or detachment is occurring, you should call your ophthalmologist right away if you notice the following symptoms, especially if you are over 45 years of age, have had an injury to your eyes or head, or if you have substantial nearsightedness:

    • A sudden increase in size and number of floaters
    • A sudden appearance of flashes
    • Having a shadow or curtain appear in the periphery (side) of your field of vision
    • Seeing a gray curtain moving across your field of vision
    • Having a sudden decrease in your vision