Flashes & Floaters

Many people experience annoying symptoms known as flashers and floaters in the eye — the likelihood of these problems increases during and after middle age.  Although harmless, flashes and floaters could be a sign of a more severe condition. If you see more flashes and floaters than normal, contact your doctor at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology.

Chart Showing How Flashes and Floaters Affect the Eye

What Is a Floater?

Floaters are specks or threads that sometimes appear in people’s field of vision. A floater is a tiny cluster of cells or protein lodged in the vitreous humor. The vitreous is a clear gel in the back of the eye that connects to the retina. Although floaters look like they appear in the front of the eye, they are located in the back of the eye. Floaters are shadows of the cell clusters across the retina. They tend to drift across the eye when it is moving. They are most evident against a plain or white background.

What Causes Floaters?

As we age, the vitreous gel in the back of the eye tends to become more liquefied. Tiny particles of the vitreous may break loose in the back of the eye. They may also float in the liquid part of the vitreous, and this creates small dots or thread-like images known as floaters.

Are Floaters Dangerous?

Seeing occasional floaters across the eye is generally not dangerous. A sudden appearance of a “shower”, many floaters, or a veil or shadow could be a symptom of a more serious retinal problem, such as a retinal detachment. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency, and it is best to contact your eye doctor to request an urgent evaluation.

Is There Any Way To Treat Floaters?

In general, doctors do not recommend treatment for occasional floaters as they tend to fade or go away over time. Doctors recommend looking up or down, or side to side to move them out of the field of vision.

What Are Eye Flashes?

Flashes look like flashing lights or lightning streaks across your eye. They can be a small flash in one spot or several flashes across a wider area.

What Causes Eye Flashes?

  • Torn, pulled or detached retina
  • Trauma to the eye
  • Ocular migraines

Are Flashes Dangerous?

Although occasional flashes can happen as we age, they can also be indicative of a torn or detached retina. A detached retina requires immediate treatment to avoid permanent loss of vision. If you experience the following symptoms, you should see an eye doctor immediately:

  • Seeing a lot of flashes
  • New floaters or an increase in the number of floaters
  • A shadow across your side (peripheral) vision
  • A curtain-like covering across part of your vision

Are Flashes Treatable?

If your flashes are due to a retinal tear or detachment, a Grand Rapids Ophthalmology retinal specialist can offer several treatment options. Our fellowship-trained retinal specialists, Drs. Yosef Gindzin and Parin Gohel, are highly qualified to evaluate and treat retinal problems.

Early detection and treatment of retinal tears can prevent a retinal detachment. There are a variety of methods to treat retinal detachment, including:

  • Laser photocoagulation uses pinpoints of laser light to attach the retina to the back of the eye.
  • Pneumatic retinopexy involves the injection of a gas bubble into the eye. After the gas bubble injection, the tear is sealed with a laser. This seal causes pressure to hold the repaired tear in place.
  • Scleral buckling and vitrectomy are two other procedures that reattach a retina.

Are you concerned about your flashes or floaters? Schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations today.

Schedule an Appointment

Schedule an appointment today to experience the GRO difference. Call 616.588.6598 or click here.

Our Locations

Grand Rapids Ophthalmology is pleased to provide top-quality, comprehensive eye care to our patients in the Greater Grand Rapids area. We have 15 conveniently located eye care centers that utilize the latest and most advanced technologies across the entire spectrum of ophthalmology. If you are seeking information about one of our eye care locations please click into our locations page for more information. Hours are subject to change due to upcoming Holidays.

Construction Update: US-131 southbound is now closed between Burton and 28th Street. The ramp from US-131 northbound to I-96 westbound is also closed and will remain closed all summer. Please allow extra travel time and plan routes accordingly to arrive for your appointment on time.

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East Beltline
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology
East Beltline Medical Center
750 East Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
(Located on the Southeast corner of East Beltline and Bradford - enter from Bradford)
616.588.6598
Hours
M, W, Th, F: 8am – 5pm
Late Night – T: 8am – 7pm
Sat: 8am – 11am
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 8am-5pm
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Grandville
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology
Rivertown Office Center
4475 Wilson Ave SW
Grandville, MI 49418
(Located on the Northwest corner of 44th St/Rivertown Pkwy and Wilson - enter from Wilson)
616.588.6598
Hours
Tu, W, F: 8am-5pm
Late Nights – M, Th: 8am-7pm
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 8am-5pm
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Walker
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology (Located on the upper level)
3300 Walker View Dr
Walker, MI 49544
(Located North of Walker Avenue exit on I-96 – enter on the upper level)
616.588.6598
Hours
M, T, Th, F: 8am-5pm
Late Night – W: 8am-7pm
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 8am-5pm
80 68th map
Cutlerville
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology
Spectrum Health South Campus
80 68th St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49548
(Located on Southeast corner of 68th St and Division)
616.588.6598
Hours
M, W, Th, F: 8am-5pm
Late Night – Tu: 8am-6pm
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 8am-5pm
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Rockford
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology
Mercy Health Campus
6050 Northland Dr NE, Suite 100
Rockford, MI 49341
616.588.6598
Hours
M, W, Th, F: 8am-5pm
Late Night – Tu: 8am-7pm
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 7am-5pm
Caledonia
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology
Mercy Health Campus
10047 Crossroads Ct SE
Caledonia, MI 49316
616.588.6598
Hours
M, Tu, W, Th, F: 8am-5pm
Closed 12pm-1pm daily
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 8am-5pm
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lakeshore map
East Grand Rapids
Lakeshore Eye
717 Bagley Ave SE
East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
616.588.6575
Hours
M-Th: 8am-5pm
F: Closed (until December 1, 2023)
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Holland
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology
Lakeshore Medical Campus
3235 N Wellness Dr, Suite 130
Holland, MI 49424
(Located ¼ mile East of US-31 on the left)
616.994.0477
Hours
M, W, Th: 8am-5pm
F: 7:30am-3:30pm
Late Night – Tu: 8am-7pm
Phones answered Mon thru Thurs 8am-5pm & Fri 7:30am-3:30pm
ionia map
Ionia
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology
537 W Main St
Ionia, MI 48846
616.527.1640
Hours
M, W, Th, F: 8am-5pm
Late Night – Tu: 8am-7pm
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 8am-5pm
Greenville map
Greenville
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology
705 S Greenville W Dr. #Suite 201
Greenville MI 48838
616.754.5667
Hours
M: 7:30am-6pm
Tu, W: 7:30am-4:30pm
Th: 8am-5pm
F: 7:30am-4:30pm
Standale
511 Wilson Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
616.301.8663
Hours
M, W, Th, F: 8am-5pm
Late Night – T: 8am-7pm
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 8am – 5pm
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GRO Surgical map
GRO Surgical Center
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology Surgical Care Center
750 East Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
(Located on Southeast corner of East Beltline and Bradford – enter on the second floor)
616.588.6598
Hours
M, TU, W, Th, F: 8am-5pm
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 8am-5pm
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Walker Surgical Center
Walker Surgical Center
3300 Walker View Dr
Walker, MI 49544
(Located North of Walker Avenue exit on I-96 – enter on the lower level)
616.588.6570
Hours
M, Tu, W, Th, F: 6am-5pm
Phones answered Mon thru Fri 6am-5pm
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