top of page
  • Writer's pictureOptician near Heathrow

Eye flashing lights and floaters

Many people get flashes or floaters at some time in their lives. They tend to be more common in older people and are usually not serious, however, there are some circumstances that require urgent investigation.

They may be a sign of a tear in the retina or a detached retina which will require treatment as soon as possible. A regular 3D OCT scan, along with regular eye exams, will not only check your eyes in more detail but also monitor any changes.

“Floaters and flashes can be serious, and you should always have light flashes and eye floaters checked by an Optometrist.”

Regular eye examinations are important so the Optician can monitor you vision, diagnose and recommend treatment if necessary. Cranford Opticians has Online Booking for appointments or call 020 8759 9395.

What are the symptoms?


Eye floaters are small black or semi transparent spots or squiggly lines that appear to float in front of your eyes / in your field of vision. You can often see them better if you stare at a light solid-coloured surface. If you try to look at them directly, they seem to dart away, but they drift when you stop moving your eyes.


Light flashes are small sparkles, lightning or fireworks that may appear in the corners of your vision / wall of the eye. These are less common and are often due to the movement of the gel inside the eye and are again age related. Very occasionally, if you notice more floaters than usual or if your vision is wavy (like a curtain), it can be a sign of retinal tears or detachment, which will need treating urgently.

What causes flashes & floaters?

Some people are born with floaters, but most floaters develop as you age. The most common cause of these symptoms is posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). The eye is filled with a gel-like substance called the vitreous, and as we get older, the gel becomes more watery and pulls away from the wall at the back of the eye, causing PVD. This condition is so common that 75 percent of people over 65 years of age get it.

Much less often, flashes and floaters can be caused by retinal detachment or tears and holes in the retina. The retina, a thin film lining at the back of the eye, is responsible for receiving light rays in the eye and making sense of them. When retinal detachment happens, it tears away from the wall of the eye. Although uncommon, when this occurs it needs to be treated as soon as possible because it can lead to permanent loss of sight.

What is the treatment?

Most of the time floaters and flashes are harmless and are not a cause for concern. Sometimes they can be annoying, but treatment is not usually advised. However, make an appointment with your optician or GP if you are worried about regular disturbances in your vision.

You may see more flashes and floaters when experiencing PVD, but these decrease in amount and intensity as time goes by. In rare cases, surgery is sometimes used to treat PVD, but it is generally simply left untreated since it is a harmless condition that does not affect sight or quality of life and usually gets better on its own.

When should I worry that my flashes & floaters are serious?

If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing retinal detachment. You should seek advice from your optician or GP urgently, or go to A&E. You can also call NHS 111 straight away for advice, if you have the following symptoms:

  • Sudden increase of flashes and floaters

  • Blurred vision

  • You see a dark curtain or shadow falling across your vision

  • Floaters appear after eye injury or surgery

  • Pain in one or both of your eyes

Who is at risk of retinal detachment?

You're more at risk if:

  • You're short-sighted (can't see objects from a distance)

  • You've had an eye injury

  • You've had eye surgery such as cataract surgery

  • You have a family history of retinal detachment

You will need surgery urgently to correct a retinal detachment.

More information and advice on eye flashing lights and floaters

Vision problems can arise in anyone, at any time – it doesn't matter how young or old you are, or how fit you are. Our goal is to help you get back to your normal life as quickly as possible. If you are ever worried about your eyes or your family’s eye health, feel free to come and talk to us about eye care.

Call 020 8759 9395 to make an appointment for an eye test. Alternatively, you can book online. Visit the macular society for full information and details of local support groups.

Ideally located near the Heathrow airport in the London Borough of Hounslow, Cranford Opticians can be easily reached from Twickenham, Feltham, Richmond , Teddington, Whitton, Hayes, Heston, Harlington, Southall, Staines, Ashford, Stanwell, Sunbury and many other areas in London and Surrey.

Find us at 742 Bath Road, Cranford, Hounslow, London, TW5 9TY. Street parking on The Avenue, High Street, Berkeley Avenue or Waye Avenue. Car parks at the Ibis Budget London Heathrow Central (TW5 9SX) and DoubleTree Hilton by Hilton London Heathrow Airport (TW5 9QE). Please check for parking conditions.

An emergency A&E eye service is available at The Western Eye Hospital, London (available 24hrs), Tel: 020 3312 6666. Typically, this is for eye injury, painful red eyes, sudden loss or distortion of vision, light flashes, eye floaters or sudden blurred vision etc, or go to a hospital that has an eye clinic​.

For tips and more see our Blog or sign up to our newsletter

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page