What is floaters and flashes?

Floaters and Flashes
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Floaters and flashes in children: Overview

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.

Flashes of light

Flashes of light are "sparks" that you may see when you move your head. They can happen when the vitreous gel in your eye pulls or tugs (causes traction) on the retina. This creates nerve impulses that appear as flashes of light.

The flashes are easier to see when your eyes are closed or you are looking at a dark area. They may come and go.

Flashes of light are often harmless, but they can be a sign of a retinal problem and should be checked by a doctor right away.

Floaters and flashes: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have vision changes.

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

  • You see new floaters.
  • You see new flashes of light.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.