Why do I see flashes of light in my peripheral vision?
Small arc-like momentary flashes of light in the peripheral vision are commonly experienced during vitreous separation. The vitreous pulls on the retina which makes one think they are seeing a light but it is caused by movement of the retina. Rarely flashes are associated with a tear in the retina.
Causes for flashes and floaters. Flashes and floaters can be caused by: Detachment of the jelly-like “vitreous” from the retina. Detachement of the innermost light-sensitive layer of the eye is the most common cause of floaters and flashes.
- Flashes and floaters not caused by a retinal tear or detachment are harmless. They may never go away completely, but they tend to become much less noticeable with time. However, if the floaters or flashes are caused by retinal tears or detachment, you could lose your vision if treatment is not provided.
- Flashes of light in your vision come from inside your eye or brain. They are not caused by lights or anything else outside of your body. Most flashes happen when the vitreous gel inside the eye shrinks or changes, pulling on the retina (the light sensitive lining of the eye).
- When the vitreous gel inside your eye rubs or pulls on the retina, you may see what looks like flashing lights or lightening streaks. You may have experienced this sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and see "stars." These flashes of light can appear off and on for several weeks or months.
Retinal Tear. A tear in the retina can occur with vitreous detachment (see discussion above), with trauma or eye injury, or in areas at risk for a retinal tear, such as "lattice degeneration". The symptoms of a retinal tear usually are of a flash of light in the peripheral vision followed by floaters.
- Flashes are sparks or strands of light that flicker across the visual field. Both are usually harmless. But they can be a warning sign of trouble in the eye, especially when they suddenly appear or become more plentiful. A floater is a tiny cluster of cells or fleck of protein lodged in the vitreous humor.
- A posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a condition of the eye in which the vitreous membrane separates from the retina. It refers to the separation of the posterior hyaloid membrane from the retina anywhere posterior to the vitreous base (a 3–4 mm wide attachment to the ora serrata).
- Ocular migraines can develop with or without the accompanying pain of a classic migraine. During an ocular migraine, or migraine with aura, you may see flashing or shimmering lights, zigzagging lines, or stars. Some people describe psychedelic images. It may also cause blind spots in your field of vision.
Flashes of light are typically seen as lightning bolts or streaks of bright white light in the peripheral vision. As the vitreous separates from the retina, it may tug on the retina triggering the flashes of light. These can be caused by dangerous interruptions in blood flow, abnormal fluid in the retina, or migraines.
- There's no pain associated with retinal detachment, but there are usually symptoms before your retina becomes detached. Primary symptoms include: blurred vision. partial vision loss, which makes it seem as if a curtain has been pulled across your field of vision, with a dark shadowing effect.
- Symptoms include a sudden or gradual increase in either the number of floaters, which are little “cobwebs” or specks that float about in your field of vision, and/or light flashes in the eye. Another symptom is the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency.
- Understanding posterior vitreous detachment. Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a very common eye condition. It's caused by natural changes to the vitreous gel which takes up the space inside the eye. Although PVD causes some frustrating symptoms it doesn't cause pain, harm the eye or cause permanent loss of vision
Updated: 4th October 2018