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Flashes and Floaters Center


What Are Floaters?

Floaters look like tiny specks floating around on the surface of your eye. However, no matter how much you rub your eyes or use eye drops, these specks are still there. That’s because these specks are actually on the inside of your eye.

The middle of your eye is filled with a clear substance called vitreous gel. Light passes through the vitreous gel and onto the retina. As you age, pieces of the vitreous gel begin to clump together. These little clumps cast a shadow on your retina, resulting in the appearance of specks floating around in your vision.

The vitreous gel can also start to shrink and pull away from the eye wall. This is common with age, and is referred to as posterior vitreous detachment. This condition will usually cause floaters.

Floaters come in all shapes and sizes. They can appear as cobwebs, spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines.

Floaters themselves are harmless and quite common and more likely affect you if you are nearsighted, have had cataract surgery or have had inflammation inside you eye. However, there are instances where you would want to seek treatment. Floaters can affect your field of vision over time making it more difficult to go about your everyday life. Floaters can be treated by simple outpatient procedures at The Eye Institute of West Florida. In other cases, a sudden increase in floaters can be a sign of retinal detachment. If you experience this issue, contact The Eye Institute of West Florida immediately to be evaluated by one of our Retina-Vietrous Specialists.

Note: Add an image split down the middle with normal vision on the left and vision affected by floaters on the right.

What Are Flashes?

Flashes appear in the visual field as “flashes” of bright light, similar to lightning. Some patients compare them to “seeing stars” after being hit on the head. Flashes are common in older people and can appear in one or both eyes and may last up to 20 minutes. They can also be a symptom of posterior vitreous detachment, usually occurring as the vitreous pulls or rubs on the retina.

Flashes can occur for weeks at a time, or even months. It is common for older people to experience flashes occasionally. However, a sudden increase in flashes can be a sign of retinal detachment. If you experience a sudden increase in the frequency of flashes, coupled with one or more of the following, you may be experiencing retinal detachment:

  • New floaters
  • A shadow in your peripheral vision
  • A gray curtain that covers part of your vision

Note: Add an image split down the middle with normal vision on the left and vision affected by flashes on the right.


Most flashes and floaters are not a problem but can become a nuisance for a lot of people. Now with advances in technology, The Eye Institute of West Florida is one of the few practices able to eliminate your annoying flashes and floaters with a simple laser procedure called a Vitreolysis.

YAG Laser Vitreolysis or Vitreolysis for short is a highly effective, outpatient procedure, involving the use of a nano-pulsed YAG laser to vaporize protein strands in the vitreous part of the eye.

Benefits of Vitreolysis:

  • Highly effective in providing functional improvement
  • Low complication rate
  • Simple, pain-free out-patient procedure
  • Immediate results
  • High degree of patient satisfaction

How it Works:

The surgeon uses specialized equipment called a YAG laser. The surgeon positions the laser over the front surface of the floater. The laser emits a high-density burst of energy that vaporizes the floater. The energy converts the floater into gas which is then absorbed by the eye.

Vision is restored immediately and the patient is able to return to daily activities right away. In fact, The Eye Institute of Florida commonly uses this procedure after cataract surgery to ensure the best vision possible for our patients.

If you have questions or concerns regarding flashes and floaters, contact Eye Institute of West Florida to schedule an appointment!

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