Health Shorts: Beware of floaters and flashes

The sudden appearance of floaters (small, drifting shapes and specks in the field of vision), brief flashes of light in peripheral vision on one side and a reduction in vision should be taken seriously and should prompt a visit to an eye specialist. A review of 17 relevant studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association [November 25, 2009] found that the prevalence of retinal tears was 14 percent among patients reporting such symptoms. About half of patients with a retinal tear went on to develop retinal detachment.

The most important symptom predicting a retinal tear was a subjective feeling of reduced vision.

[SOURCE: Dr. Laurie Barclay, “Floaters and/or flashes may warn of retinal tear and detachment,” Medscape Medical News, Dec. 9, 2009]

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Last Updated May 26, 2010