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Nova Scotia Seniors – Protect Your VisionPosted Sep 16, 2016
Have you noticed that as we get older, our arms need to be longer in order for us to read the label on a can of tomato soup? Do you have squiggly thread like floaters crossing your field of vision from time to time? Are there white flashes occurring out of the corner of your eye? Time to go to the doctor.
While floaters and flashes could be simple issues, they may not be too. Issues related to your eye sight should also be addressed as quickly as possible. Untreated issues can escalate quickly and could have long term impacts. Picture life without it. No more driving, no more enjoying the scenery, no more watching the expressions on your grandchild’s face.
The appearance of floaters from time to time is not necessarily cause for alarm. They are common as we get older and are caused by the vitreous fluid liquefying from its gel state and not fully dissolving. It forms many different shapes such as bits of thread or spots which cast shadows on the retina where the photoreceptors are. They are not actually floating in front of your eye, they are floating in liquid and are casting shadows on the retina at the back of your eye.
In most cases, there is nothing to be done. You see a few floaters, they do not occlude your vision and they move around within the liquid, which is why you can’t really focus on them when you try. After a while, they usually fade and you can usually forget they are there. If there are any persistent and bothersome ones, they can usually be treated with Laser treatments that take five minutes in the doctor’s office
However… if you see a shower of floaters and spots, especially if they are accompanied by flashes of light, you should seek medical attention immediately!
An Ophthalmologist can, in most cases, repair the damage by re-attaching the retina, if it is handled quickly enough before permanent blindness occurs.
Flashes can occur for many other reasons as well. If the retina is mechanically manipulated as in when you rub your eyes, the brain responds with flashes.
Flashes may also occur after a blow to the head – sometimes is called “seeing stars.”
Some experience flashes of light that appear as jagged lines, like lightening, in both eyes, usually caused by a spasm of blood vessels in the brain.
A migraine can bring them on. However, the lightning flashes can occur without a headache. The light flashes are called an ophthalmic migraine, or a migraine without the pain.
Visit your eye care professional regularly regardless and if you are suffering from floaters and flashes, call. If retinal detachment or tears are the problem, they need to be treated right away. If it is not serious then give thanks and go read a book, visit the kids or appreciate the view.