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Eye care & eye wear

Floaters and flashing lights

Information on a range of common eye conditions and problems

Floaters and Flashing Lights

“Floaters” are small particles floating in the vitreous humour – the jelly-like fluid that fills the eye. If you have floaters, they appear as spots, wisps, or strands or other shapes that appear to be floating in your field of vision. The “floater” is actually the shadow that the particle casts on the retina.

Floaters are quite common, especially in people with myopia (short sightedness) and as you get older. They can also become more noticeable when you are tired. Although they can be annoying and distracting, they are not harmful and do not require treatment..

However, floaters can sometimes indicate a tearing or detachment of the retina. Such cases are often accompanied by “flashing lights”. If you notice a sudden increase in the severity of floaters or if you are seeing flashes, it is important to get yourself checked-out promptly by an optician.

It is important to have your eyes checked regularly by an optician – at least once every two years.


Floaters rarely require treatment. But a retinal detachment or tear will need surgery.

Under certain circumstances – and if floaters are causing you signficant difficulty – a vitrectomy may be performed. This is a surgical procedure to remove the vitreous humour in your eye together with the floating debris causing your floaters and to replace it with a saline solution.

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It is important to look after your eyes from birth to old age and at every stage in between. Take a journey through the ages of eyecare for tips on how to best care for your eyes and vision through all life’s stages