Why am I seeing Flashing Lights?
Seeing flashing lights can make you panic. Especially if you’re driving and you’ve been speeding. But we’re not talking about seeing those dreaded lights in your rearview mirror, we’re talking about the flashes of light that occur in your field of vision, what they mean and if you should be concerned. Read on to learn more about this visual phenomenon…
What causes flashing lights in vision?
“Flashing” refers to seeing a flash of light in your field of vision. These flashes come from inside the eye and not from outside stimulus. While this can occur for many reasons, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) most flashes happen when the vitreous gel inside the eye shrinks or changes, (common with aging) pulling on the retina (the light sensitive lining of the eye).
Other causes of flashes of light according to the AAO are:
- Trauma or eye injury- Flashes of light can occur if you’re hit in the eye or rub your eyes too hard. In both cases, the flashes are caused by physical force on the retina.
- Migraine aura- While flashes of light appear then fade quickly for the most part a migraine aura which usually occurs before the onset of a migraine headache has bright spots, lines or patches that stay for a period of time.
- Cataract surgery- in cataract surgery with lens implants, if light strikes the implant at a certain angle it can cause a flash in the peripheral vision or cause reflection.
- Sudden head or eye movement can cause flashes of light.
Are eye flashes serious? Should I be concerned about flashes of light in my vision?
Not usually. Flashes of light that appear then fade quickly is a temporary condition and a normal visual phenomenon throughout life, especially as we age. Occasional flashes are common. Though these occasional flashes are usually harmless, you should mention them to your Toronto Optometrist during your eye exam to rule out any possible underlying causes.
Can eye flashes be an emergency? When should I be worried about flashes of light in my vision?
Seeing sudden repeated flashes of light could indicate a serious problem: that your retina has torn or detached, especially if you also have cloudy floaters or vision changes. Your Toronto eye doctor must treat this quickly to prevent blindness.
Call your doctor right away if:
- You suddenly start seeing flashes when you haven’t before.
- You have a sudden increase in flashes of light.
- You see flashes of light along with cloudiness or dark spots in your vision.
- You see a dark area or ‘curtain’ across your vision.
- You see flashes of light after being hit in the eye or face.
What treatment is there for flashes of light in the eyes?
There is no treatment for occasional flashes of light that are caused by changes to the vitreous gel inside your eye as you age. These occasional flashes don’t cause damage and most people get used to them after a little while. If you’re seeing a lot of flashes of light, discuss it with your eye doctor and see whether it is cause for concern. If there is an underlying condition, treatment will usually reduce the number of flashes you see.
Questions or concerns? Give us a call, we’re here to help.