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Hi. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.
I am a retina surgeon and deal with this issue all the time. Let me tell you what is going on.....
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.
What can you do about the floaters? Well, floaters don't go away, and they don't really get worse. Over time they tend to "sink" out of your central vision and you brain "filters" them out so you don't notice them so much anymore. They almost never cause significant visual problems except, of course, if they cause a secondary retinal detachment as discussed above. The only way to decrease or remove the floaters is with a major surgery called a vitrectomy. As a retinal specialist for almost 2 decades I've only done this procedure to remove floaters in a handful of cases.
Here is a video of the actual surgery to remove floaters:
I actually did a the surgery to remove floaters yesterday for a patient but, as I said above, this is not something that I do very often.
As long as you don't have any of the symptoms of a retinal detachment that I discusses above, this is not an ocular emergency and you can safely see your ophthalmologist in the next few days or so.
Does this answer your question to your satisfaction?
I hope this information was helpful for you. But I do work for tips so I want to make sure you are happy with me before rating me. If you have another question on this or a related issue feel free to fire away. And please let me know if the rating system gives you any troubles. Thanks in advance, Dr. Rick
We have been experiencing problems with the chat system for the last few days. Our engineers are working on it. However, I'll switch over to the Q&A system. This system works a lot like 'text messaging' but an email is sent to each of us anytime something is posted to this thread. We can continue to work on your question there..... :)