There are many different reasons you may see flashing lights in your vision. It may be because you sat up too fast, or because you move from a dark room to a bright light; however, it may be because of a retinal problem as well.
The most common cause of flashing lights
Possibly the most common cause of flashing lights in your vision is a posterior vitreous detachment. This occurs when the vitreous, which is the jelly that fills up the back part of your eye, pulls itself away from the retina that it is attached to. Almost 75% of people will have this happen at some time during their life! The vitreous pulls off the retina slowly over the course of 4-6 weeks. As it pulls, you may notice flashing lights in the periphery of your vision. It is also common to notice the formation of new and even sometimes large floaters in your vision as a result of the vitreous separating from the retina. In rare cases the vitreous may pull a piece of the retina with it, causing a break or tear in the retina.
A retinal break or tear is much less common than a vitreous detachment, but it may have the same symptoms. If this occurs it is often necessary to treat the break or tear with a laser to prevent permanent loss of vision from a retinal detachment.
A retinal detachment when the retina itself pulls away from the back of the eye. The retina is the part of the eye that receives the image you see and sends it to the brain for processing. If the retina separates from the back of the eye you have an emergency situation. You may lose vision very quickly and permanently from a retinal detachment. People who are very nearsighted, have a history of an eye injury or eye surgery, or have a family history of retinal detachments are more likely to develop one themselves. Common symptoms of a retinal detachment are flashing lights or floaters in your vision, or a curtain or shadow covering and closing off part of your vision.
Occasionally people who suffer from migraine headaches may see flashing lights in their vision as well. This is known as an aura and typically precedes a migraine headache. These flashing lights are described as jagged or moving lines that start in one part of the vision and move across the vision over a period of about 10 to 15 minutes.
Some people see specks or lines floating in their vision. Many times these are normal and are the result of light casting a shadow from natural strands in the vitreous onto the retina. Eye movements cause these floaters to move and they are often hard to look directly at. Floaters can also be a result of pigment being released from a break or tear in the retina so they should be evaluated as well. In the normal eye, floaters that appear will gradually become less noticeable over time.
For more information on Flashes and Floaters or any other disorder of the eye, contact one of our eye doctors in Katy, Clear Lake/Pearland, Bellaire or Northwest office.
Phone: (713) 661-6500
6699 Chimney Rock Rd
Houston, TX 77081
Phone: (281) 347-6500
1331 W Grand Pkwy N
Katy, TX 77493
CLEAR LAKE /PEARLAND
Phone: (281) 484-1186
Houston, TX 77089
Phone: (281) 477-7077
Houston, TX 77065
Phone: (281) 454-2056
5810 Wilson Road
Humble, TX 77396