Potentially Serious Visual Symptoms
Flashing Lights with or without Floaters
Flashing lights can represent stimulation to the retina or light sensitive layer of the eye. Generally, flashing lights in the form of instantaneous lightening bolts represent that some form of traction has been placed on the retina. These flashes of light are not like the aura of migraine headaches that usually last continually for minutes and change appearance over that time period. Floaters represent the shadow of material floating in front of the retina.
In most cases, the presence of instantaneous light flashes with floaters, represent benign changes occurring within the eye. However, in a few cases they represent a warning that a tear has occurred within the retinal tissue. This tear may be a precursor to a subsequent retinal detachment and vision loss. Fortunately, the number of tears that proceed to this drastic detachment are few.
The retina can detach with or without flashes of light. If the retina is detaching it usually causes a loss of vision from the peripheral visual field and heads towards the center of your vision. This loss does not go away untreated and could be described as a curtain effect obscuring part of your visual field. If caught early, treatment and visual outcomes are typically easier and better.
Sudden Momentary Loss or Dimming of Vision
Termed amaurosis fugax, it represents a transient loss of blood supply to the eye.
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Last Change: 27 November, 2013