For example, I had a patient who came to see me a few months ago, panicking about a new development of flashing lights and floaters. A full eye examination involved dilating the pupil to be able to see the back of the eye, especially the peripheral of the retina where the tears and holes are more likely to develop. The examination showed that the patient had no problem with their retina, however, the vitreous – that is the gel inside the eye – was not firmly attached to the retina. It was peeling off the retina and becoming looser.
This is a kind of benign condition where we call posterior vitreous detachment, where the gel just starts to float freely inside the eye. As a result, the vision starts to see floaters. Although it was good news that the retina appeared to be safe, we always give these patients what they called flashing and floaters advice. We tell them that if you develop a new flashing light, have a new floater that you have not experienced before, or if you’re losing part of the peripheral vision then you need to see a specialist because this could mean that the retina is about to detach.