Flashing Lights or a sudden increase in floaters may be a precursor to a retinal detachment
As we mature, 50% of individuals may experience the sudden onset of flashing lights or new floaters. This often signfies a posterior vitreous detachment. People with higher degrees of near-sightedness are more likely to experience a posterior vitreal detachment. The vitreous is a jelly filled sac inside the eye that has attachments to the optic nerve and peripheral retina. The vitreous jelly in our eyes condenses as we mature. As it does so, it may cause traction on your retina. This is perceived as a flash of light. For some, this traction results in a tear in the retina. Fluid may get under the tear, resulting in a retinal detachment. A retinal detachment can result in severe and permanent loss of vision. When the retina detaches, it is pulled away from it's blood supply and starts to die. Early treatment is key to restore vision lost by repairing the retina and putting the retina back in its proper place. More severe vision loss occurs once the center of vision is affected.
To reduce your risk of severe vision loss, it is recommended that you be seen as soon as possible (within 24 to 48 hours) of the onset of these symptoms. However, if you cover one eye and notice that part of the world is missing or shaded in a dark curtain, it is likely that a retinal detachment has occurred and you should be see as soon as possible. Go to see an eye doctor or the emergency department as soon as possible. Don't drink or eat anything, as you may undergo urgent surgery to repair the retina.
Repairing a retinal detachment before your central vision is affected will reduce the risk of severe vision loss. Small retinal tears may be treated with a laser to create a scar to prevent fluid from getting under the retina and causing a retinal detachment. Being seen early for the onset of these symptoms may help prevent more severe permanent vision loss.
If you develop these symptoms, you should call Dr. Thompson or your local eye doctor or go to the emergency room as soon as possible.