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Floaters and Flashes: Care Instructions

Eyeball and optic nerve


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

Floaters and flashes usually aren't serious. In many cases, they're a normal part of getting older. Some people get used to them. Others find them annoying. If floaters bother you, you can try to look up and then down. This may make them go away.

For now, your doctor doesn't think your 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 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 you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You have sudden vision loss.
  • You have a shadow or "curtain" over part of your visual field.

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

  • You have 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.