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Seeing the light? See an eye doctor.

Here are two symptoms you shouldn’t ignore when it comes to your eyes. If you see light or floaters, book an appointment with an eye doctor (besides your usual check-ups, which are recommended every two years).

flash of lightFlashes or arcs of light

“Flashes or arcs of light get us worried,” said Dr. Peter Kertes, chief of ophthalmology at Sunnybrook. “It might mean that the vitreous – the gel-like substance that makes up the bulk of the volume of the eye – is pulling on the retina.” If you move your eye quickly and there’s a flash briefly, see an eye doctor. Over time the vitreous gets pockets of fluid in it. The fluid comes together and the gel collapses forwards and can pull on the retina and tear the retina. This can lead to retinal detachment and other issues.

flecks on the blue skyFloaters

“Floaters” happens when the vitreous becomes liquefied. “People report seeing spiderwebs or a seeing a bug that’s not there,” Dr. Kertes said. What you are actually seeing is the shadow of coalesced material in the vitreous. These floaters can be a normal part of aging, and for some, are just a nuisance. But, they can be a sign of other issues and can lead to complications, so best to get it checked out.

elderly woman with headacheAura Light from Migraines

Aura light from migraines can be disturbing and difficult to see through. “These are usually accompanied by a headache and last a few minutes,” Dr. Kertes said. “In the elderly in particular, these can be visual migraines.” But these differ from flashes and arcs of light in that they aren’t just when you move your eye as mentioned above. If you suffer from migraines, speak to your family doctor who can help with treatment.

 

 

 

About the author

Alexis Dobranowski

Alexis Dobranowski is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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