Most eye flashes, or floaters, are harmless and do not require treatment, according to the National Eye Institute. However a sudden increase in floaters or loss of peripheral vision may indicate retinal detachment, which can lead to blindness. Treatment options include laser therapy or a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy.
Floaters are spots in the peripheral vision caused by changes to the jelly-like vitreous inside the eye, states Mayo Clinic. If floaters persist or vision is impaired, medical treatment is recommended. Laser surgery is used to break up the floaters in the vitreous and make them less noticeable. The treatment has a significant risk of retinal damage if the laser is aimed incorrectly.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the vitreous gel and replace it with a saline solution, notes the National Eye Institute. Surgeons rarely perform the procedure because of serious possible side effects, including retinal tears, retinal detachment and cataracts.
Eye flashes are usually caused by changes to the vitreous, which helps the eye maintain its round shape and shrinks with age, explains Mayo Clinic. The shrinking vitreous can become clumpy and stringy, casting small shadows, or floaters, on the retina. Floaters may also be caused by infection or an inflammatory disease called posterior uveitis, which affects the layers in the back of the eye.