Should You Worry About Flashes of Light in the Eye and Visit an Eye Doctor?

Should You Worry About Flashes of Light in the Eye and Visit an Eye Doctor?

If you are not watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve or any other major events of the year, seeing light streaking across the visual field is not a good sign. Flashes of light can be caused by various medical conditions, including eye hemorrhage, shrinking vitreous humor, stroke, retinal detachment, or even migraine. According to Elite Vision Centers,  mild flashes are nothing to worry about, but intense, very disturbing flashes could signal a serious condition that requires the eye doctor’s immediate attention. So, should you worry about flashes of light in the eye and visit an eye doctor? Read on to find out.

First, it is important to explore some of the causes of flashes and determine whether they pose a threat to your vision. Healthy eyes only see flashes from outside of the eyes, but when these flashes are in the visual field and others around you are not able to see them, it means you may be having an eye problem or another health issue. Here are some of the major causes of flashes.

Retinal detachment: A minor tissue tear in the back of the eye can convert light into images. For the retina to work properly, it requires steady blood flow and any interruption through a tear may cause a breakdown in the flow of information. The brain interprets this as light flashes. You should definitely worry about this and seek immediate medical attention from a qualified eye doctor because the longer you stay with the tear the more likely you are to have permanent vision loss.

Hemorrhage: Your eyes also receive blood supply through tiny blood vessels lining the eye socket. A tear in any of the capillaries can leak blood in the area behind the retina, thereby leading retinal detachment and even flashes of light. This is also a serious eye problem and you need to see your eye doctor as soon as possible to avoid any further tears that may compromise your vision and even result in permanent vision loss.

Shrinking vitreous humor: Your retina is held in place by vitreous humor, a thick, gel-like substance. Aging causes the material to become smaller and smaller. When the substance tugs in your retina, you may start seeing flashes and sparks. You’re likely to experience this after the age of 60. This shrinkage of vitreous humor can result in retinal detachment. So, you need to visit your eye doctor to receive treatment.

Stroke:  Flashes of light caused by bleeding in the brain is a medical emergency. A stroke may also present headaches, slurred speech, numbness, or weakness.

Migraines: When the brain experiences unusual electrical activity, it may also experience a shift in perception, which may cause flashes of light. A migraine does not require the attention of an eye doctor, but you should visit your physician to have it checked.

So, light flashes are caused by a number of factors. Your decision to see an eye doctor depends on the cause. While flashes caused by migraines may not require you to visit an eye doctor, it is a serious medical condition that requires a general physician’s attention. Stroke, on the other hand, is a medical emergency and could lead to loss of life if not given urgent medical attention.


Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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