What should I do if I have floaters or flashing lights in my vision?

If you have anything unusual happening with your vision, you should make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist or optometrist as soon as possible to have your eyes examined.

Floaters and flashing lights are usually symptoms of an eye condition called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Although it can cause some frustrating symptoms, PVD does not cause pain, harm the eye, or change the way the eye works. In the vast majority of cases, PVD will not lead to long term changes in your vision.

Importantly, these same symptoms can be an indication of a more serious problem, such as a retinal tear, which needs urgent attention. You will not be able to tell the difference between floaters and flashes caused by PVD or retinal detachment. The only way you can tell is to have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Further information can be found on our eye examination webpage and in our PVD and retinal detachment leaflets, part of our understanding series:

You can also contact our Helpline:


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