Flashes & Floaters
Henderson Vision Centre
1439 Henderson Hwy Winnipeg MB R2G 1N3 (204) 582-2308
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Flashes & Floaters

Floaters & Flashes Are Generally Harmless, Though a Sudden Increase of Either Warrant Investigation By An optometrist

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Eye Floaters

We’ve all see them: when staring at a lightly-coloured surface, such as a wall or a cloudy sky, an almost-translucent “squiggle” floats along near the edges of our vision. When we try to look at the squiggle, it seems to dart back to the periphery. These are called “floaters”.

Floaters are generally benign, with most people seeing them intermittently throughout their lives. In the vast majority of cases they pose no medical risk. However, a sudden increase in the amount of floaters in your vision should be checked out by an optometrist, as sudden increases in floaters are linked with several eye diseases.

Inside your eye is a gel like substance called vitreous gel. A normal process called vitreous syneresis gradually liquefies this gel. Collagen fibres that exist inside the vitreous gel thicken with age- these are what we see as floaters.

Neat fact: when we see floaters we aren’t actually seeing the collagen fibres; what we’re seeing are the shadows those fibres cast on the retina.

In the vast majority of cases, eye floaters are no cause for alarm. They tend to be associated with aging and are normal.

However, if you experience a sudden and significant increase in the amount of eye floaters you’re seeing, see an optometrist. This may be indicative of the development of an eye disease or a physical problem that requires addressing (the most common being posterior vitreous detachment).

If you’re reading this because you’re noticing a lot of floaters, please see us for an eye exam.

Eye Flashes

The term “seeing stars” refers to flashes. A serious bump to the head can cause flashes, but so can other completely normal phenomena. Flashes occur because of the way your body processes and interprets light, and are the result of physical stimulus to your retina.

Flashes are much less common than floaters, and while generally benign, they are more a cause of concern than floaters are. An increase in eye flashers should be investigated by an optometrist as soon as possible- chances are it’s nothing, but if it’s something it can have serious implications if not diagnosed and treated promptly.

When light enters the eye and hits the retina, this stimulus is converted into an electrical impulse and sent to the brain by way of the optic nerve. This is how we see light.

Physical stimulus of the retina is what produces those moving specs/flashes of light. This can be when the retina is tugged on, such as what happens during posterior vitreous detachment.

Other conditions, such as migraines, can also produce flashers.

Flashers can be indicative of damage or impending damage to the retina. Most of the time they are proven to be inert, but when they aren’t they can be a precursor to larger eye issues.

Location & Hours

You can find us in the River East Plaza, between Safeway and Booster Juice, and across from Tim Hortons.
We have plenty of parking available on-site.


Unit 1B - 1439 Henderson Hwy
Winnipeg, MB R2G 1N3
Tel: (204) 582-2308
Fax: (204) 339-1272
E-mail: [email protected]

Office Hours

Monday-Thursday 8:30am - 5:30pm
Fridays 9:00am - 4:30pm
Saturdays 9:00am -3:00pm (except for long weekends and July/August)
Sunday: Closed

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