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What is Flashlight Vision?

Flashlight vision refers to seeing flashes of light when there is no external light source. Instead, these spots of light originate inside the eye. They can be described as seeing a flash, a lightning streak, or even a shooting star. 

There are many reasons that flashlight vision occurs—some of which are totally benign. Others could be symptoms of a more serious issue.

Everything You Need to Know about Flashlight Vision 

  • What does flashlight vision look like?
  • What causes flashlight vision?
  • What should I do if I experience flashlight vision?

What does flashlight vision look like? 

Flashlight vision is experienced in many ways. As previously stated, it could be like lightning or a shooting star. It might be a pinprick type of light or perhaps larger. But the overarching aspect of flashlight vision is that it only lasts a few seconds.

Other lights that might be seen that are sometimes mistaken for flashlight vision include:

  • Seeing halos around lights: This is common for those with astigmatism or a symptom of cataracts. It can also be an effect of an intraocular lens (an artificial lens that’s fitted within the eye, commonly after cataract surgery).
  • Patches, lines, or spots of light that remain for a period of time: Likely to be a symptom of a condition, such as migraine. This is known as an aura and usually precedes the onset of other migraine symptoms.

What causes flashlight vision?

The most common cause of flashlight vision comes from changes within the jelly-like substance inside the eye (the vitreous). If this changes in volume or consistency, it can pull on the thin layer of light-receiving cells that line the back of the eye (the retina).

The vitreous can alter for many reasons, but age is the most common—it shrinks during later life. 

Examples of other causes include:

  • Retinal detachment: Characterized by multiple flashes of light and/or the sudden appearance of new floaters. A torn retina or one that’s beginning to detach will also be likely to cause the same symptoms.
  • Stickler syndrome: A genetic eye disease.
  • Vitreomacular traction: A condition that can occur concurrently with a posterior vitreous retinal detachment, where the part of the vitreous stays attached to the macula.
  • Histoplasmosis: A lung infection that can migrate to the eye.
  • Cytomegalovirus retinitis: A serious type of eye infection.

While most of these are extremely rare, retinal detachment is a little more common. It’s estimated that around 1 in 10,000 people will suffer this between the ages of 40-70.

What should I do if I experience flashlight vision?

The odd occurrence of flashlight vision is probably no cause for concern. However, you should be sure to let your eye doctor know during your next examination. 

If you experience a sudden onset of flashlight vision (seeing flashes of light), this is highly indicative of a detached (or detaching) retina. This is a medical emergency, and you should immediately contact your eye doctor. If that’s not possible, then head to the nearest ED. Most instances of a detached retina can be treated if caught in the early stages. Therefore, the quicker you get clinical help, the better. Left untreated, a detached retina can potentially cause total loss of sight in the affected eye.

Worried About Flashlight Vision? Call the West Boca Eye Center Today

If you’re concerned about any changes in your vision—whether it’s seeing flashes of light or anything else—then don’t hesitate to contact the WBEC. As one of the country’s leading ophthalmology facilities, we can assess and deal with any aspect of eye care on-site.

Our patients love the continuity of care they receive, not to mention being treated by some of the top clinicians in the world.

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What is Flashlight Vision?
What is Flashlight Vision?

Flashlight vision refers to seeing flashes of light when there is no external light source. Instead, these spots of light originate inside the eye.

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Located 1/2 miles North of West Boca Medical Center on Glades Road, directly behind Macy's Furniture Gallery.

West Boca Eye Center
9325 Glades Road, Suite 201.
Boca Raton, FL 33434

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