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Floaters and Flashes in Children: Care Instructions

Eyeball and optic nerve


Floaters are spots and lines that "float" across your child's field of vision. These are caused by stray cells or strands of tissue inside the eyeball. Flashes are sparkles or lightning streaks. These occur in your child's side vision. This is called the peripheral vision.

Floaters and flashes usually aren't serious. But they can be annoying. If floaters are bothersome, your child can look up and then down. This may make them go away.

For now, your doctor doesn't think your child's symptoms are a sign of a more serious problem. But an eye exam is the only way to know for sure.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has sudden vision loss.
  • Your child complains of a shadow or "curtain" over part of his or her visual field.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child has more floaters. These may look like specks, globs, strings, or dots that move across the field of vision.
  • The flashes of light or sparks get worse.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.