The eye is filled with a clear jelly like substance called the vitreous. The vitreous is attached to the inner wall of the eye called the retina. As we age, the jelly (vitreous) becomes less solid and more liquefied. This can cause traction at the vitreous/retinal interface which stimulates the retina, causing flashing lights. The liquefaction also causes particle formation in the clear jelly (vitreous) that we see as floaters. Floaters appear as specks, dots, spots or lines that occasionally drift into your vision. If you experience new floaters and/or flashes across your vision it is important that you contact your eye care professional or go to the emergency room. This can be a symptom of retinal detachment which is considered an ocular emergency and requires immediate attention.
A common phenomena that occurs as we age is called a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). This occurs when the vitreous releases from the back of the eye causing a large floater. Some of the risk factors for PVD are eye myopia, trauma, eye surgery, and inflammation. PVD does not cause any severe symptoms; however it may increase the risk of a retinal tear and detachment. Therefore, it is important that if you are experiencing a PVD you have an eye exam to ensure that more serious problems are not present.