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Flashes or Floaters Can Be Indicators of Retinal Tear

A report in the Journal of the American Medical Associationindicates that one in seven patients experiencing a sudden onset of flashes of light or floaters in their line of vision have suffered a retinal tear or a retinal detachment. A retinal tear occurs when the thin layer of light-sensitive tissue on the back wall of the eye begins to peel away from the supportive tissue. Retinal tears occur more often as people age. It can also be associated with those suffering from degenerative myopia? or people who have experienced an injury to an eye. If left untreated, retinal tears can lead to retinal detachment and loss of vision. A dilated retinal exam performed by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist is required if you have flashes (photospsias) or a new onset of floaters. It is imperative that a retinal tear be diagnosed early in order to avoid it becoming a retinal detachment. Approximately 50% of eyes that have a retinal tear develop a retinal detachment without treatment. While many people do experience floaters which are a natural part of the aging process, the sudden onset of dots or floaters that have a cobweb-like appearance that don't go away should immediately be referred to an ophthalmologist for a complete retinal exam. Sudden flashes of light like fireworks also demand urgent attention. Andrea Schumann Staff Writer

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