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What is it?

Flashing lights, floating spots, gnats, cobwebs, strings – all describe annoying objects that may suddenly appear in our vision. Though they appear in front of our sight, they usually come from the thick fluid inside the eye called the vitreous gel.

Who does it affect?

Most everyone will see a floating spot sometime in life. It is more common to notice them as we age since the vitreous breaks down, moves around or separates from the retina. Nearsighted people are more likely to see these floaters.

How is it treated?

A full examination including dilation is essential. Most of the time flashes and floaters are caused by movement or separation of the vitreous gel, and this may need regular monitoring. With time, the floaters drop out of sight due to gravity and become less noticeable. This may take several weeks. Dilated exams are important since some flashes and floaters can be caused by retinal tears or detachments. Whether they are new or returning, any sudden increase in flashes or floaters should prompt you to call your eye doctor immediately.