Toronto Centre Eye Care
#103, 180 Dundas St W Toronto ON M5G 1Z8 (416) 597-3937

Toronto, ON / (416) 597-3937

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Flashes & Floaters

Understanding Flashes & Floaters

Many of us recognise that our bodies do strange things, but simply dismiss them as normal. Often these strange things are normal. However, there are times that the body is trying to send a signal that something is wrong. It is important to become familiar with what is normal and what is not, so you can react appropriately when your body tells you something is not quite right.

Flashes and floaters are two common eye phenomena that tend to baffle patients. By learning about what is normal and what is not, you are taking a proactive approach to your eye care.


To truly understand flashes and how they occur, we must first understand the retina.

What is the Retina?

The inside of your eye is covered with a sensitive series of tissues called the retina. When light stimulates the retina, it sends an impulse through the optic nerve to the brain, where it is translated to an image. The retina is so sensitive that being touched, moved, or jostled could be enough to stimulate it.

What Are Flashes

The vitreous is attached to the retina. As we age, the vitreous shrinks as it dissolves. This shrinkage can cause the vitreous to start pulling away from the retina. As the vitreous pulls away, it can tug on the retina, stimulating it to send a message to the brain. The brain interprets this message as a flash of light.

Flashes like this can also occur due to a head injury, a sudden stop, or a fall. Anything that could jostle the retina will likely cause a flash.

When Are Flashes Cause For Concern?

When flashes seem to come in waves, repeating over and over again, this most likely indicates an emergency. If you see waves of flashes in conjunction with a downward shower of floaters, you may be experiencing a retinal tear or detachment. This is a serious medical issue which requires immediate medical help.


To truly understand what floaters are and how they work, we must first understand the vitreous.

What is the Vitreous?

The inside of your eye is filled with a gel-like substance called the vitreous. This substance takes a more structured form when you are born. However, as you age, the vitreous dissolves into a liquid. The vitreous does not always dissolve evenly, leaving a few pieces of gel floating in the liquid.

What Are Floaters?

The term “floaters” refers to the small shapes you occasionally see floating in your vision. They can appear as little strings, clumps, or doughnut shapes. The appearance of these shapes is caused by undissolved pieces of the vitreous floating in the liquid vitreous.

When Are Floaters Cause For Concern

Anytime your floaters undergo a sudden change it could indicate a problem. If you suddenly notice more floaters or floaters of a different size and shape than what you are used to, you should see a medical professional right away.

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We are located on Dundas Street West, in the Java Joe's Building.

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#103, 180 Dundas St W
Toronto, ON M5G 1Z8

Contact Information

Phone +1 (416) 597-3937 (EYES)
Email [email protected]
Fax +1 (416) 597-3967



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