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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11241
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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I have floaters in my left eye, and flashes on the periphery

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I have 'floaters' in my left eye, and flashes on the periphery - left side - it's whenever I get up to move around. But i think something is different with my vision in that eye too - how urgent is this?

Dr. Rick :

Hi. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.

Dr. Rick :

When you say something is different with your vision in that eye, what do you mean? Does it seem like there is a curtain coming across your vision from any direction?

Dr. Rick :

Here's some information about what is going on with your eye:

Customer:

No - not a curtain - just kind of a bit of a blur, or not even a blur, but a slight film.

Dr. Rick :

You are likely experiencing a PVD or posterior vitreous detachment, a common event that happens in many people.

You have a thick gel material in the middle of your eyes called the vitreous. Over time as it liquefies, this gel material collapses on itself, forms little clumps that you can see as dots, lines or bugs. As these clumps form the vitreous pulls away from the wall of the eye. In the process it can stimulate the retina -- causing the flashes that you may see.

It is recommended that you see your ophthalmologist to look at the retina to make sure there are no problems such as a retinal hole or tear. In most cases, there are no problems, but this exam is precautionary and allows for preventative treatment of any lesions that are found.

If you notice a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light (like a lightning storm), or a shadow/veil in the periphery of your vision, this can be worrisome for a retinal detachment. You would need to contact your ophthalmologist promptly in that case.


 

Dr. Rick :

A little bit of a blur shouldn't be anything to be concerned about as an emergency but I would feel better if you could get in to your ophthalmologist so that she can give you a complete eye exam in the very near future.

Dr. Rick :

Of course, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above you need to be seen right away.

Dr. Rick :

Does this make sense to you?
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Customer:

Yes, thank you - I'm wondering - when you say a curtain - would that look dark rather than clear and filmy like mine?

Dr. Rick :

It can be dark or it can be like a grey shadow. What it looks like depends on how and where the retina is involved.

Dr. Rick :

clear and filmy might just be the strands of the vitreous floating around.

Dr. Rick :

A complete eye exam will be able to tell for sure what is going on.

Customer:

OK - thank you again - I will go and get a complete exam - I just didn't know if I should go to Emerg. - but I will make an appt. Thanks do much, Doctor.

Dr. Rick :

I know in Canada it can be difficult to see a specialist but I think you would be better served by an MD eye doc then an optometrist etc.

Dr. Rick :

No need to go to the emergency at this point...anyway, a regular doc really doesn't have the training or equipment to evaluate this kind of thing.

Dr. Rick :

My pleasure. Have a good day.

Dr. Rick :

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Customer:

Yes, you're right - I'm going to the Optometrist first because he will be able to get me in to an eye doctor sooner. This has put my mind to rest, and now I know what to do. Much appreciated.

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