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flashes with eye movement
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flashes with eye movement

Hi, Dr. Prince, I have read your responses about flashing where you say that any controllable repeatable flashes are usually not of major concern. Isn't repeatable flashes a  sign of retinal tugging that could ultimately lead to tear or detachment? I believe I read somewhere awhile back that flashes that have gone on for years actually lessen the chance of a problem. Does that sound right? I am myopic, about -5.50,early 40's, and first noticed a flash over 5 years ago.Now I've noticed that with eye movement, like looking up quickly to put on makeup or dry my hair I'll see a quick almost silver like flash. It happens almost everytime and I try to avoid the eye movement so I don't notice it. I also have some white lines that I see alot in my left eye under certain lighting conditions, not the dark. I have been examined by a retinal specialist and told everything is fine. Why is this flash with movement considered ok, it always makes me feel like it's gonna tear something any minute and it's hard not to get that feeling of fear and dread when I notice it. Thanks so much.
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Avatar_n_tn
controllable & predictably repeatable flashes (for example, you see a flash when you look up) are usually not a problem.  that is not the same as unpredictable/uncontrollable but repeatable flashes (example it starts flashing in the left side of your vision, and continues to flash even when you close your eyes or no matter where you look, etc etc).  those types of flashes usually are problematic... ie retinal hole/tear/detachment.

yes, i agree that the longer you have a flash, the less likely it is to be a retinal problem.

retinal receptiors are not all that "smart".  your skin, for example, has deep touch receptors, light touch receptors, hot receptors, cold receptors, tickle receptors (i'm not making these up!), pain receptors, etc etc.  your retina, however, has ONE receptor type: light receptor.  thats it.  whenever light falls on that receptor, it is stimulated and you "see" light.

but that receptor can be stimulated in more ways than just light.  if electricity is applied, you will "see" light.  if you physically press on that receptor, you will "see" light, etc.

inside the eye, if you are having a retinal problem there is usually retinal or vitreal traction (pulling) and so thats what causes the "flashes" in a retinal tear or hole or detachment.

but if you MOVE your eye in a certain position (for you its UP) and part of your skull or extraocular musculature presses on the OUTSIDE of the eye and temporarily deforms the shape of the eye, you will see a flash.  thats called a "pressure phosphene".  it is totally benign.  not fixable and not dangerous.  thats why i always say if you can MAKE yourself see the flash in a very predictable way (for example "every time i look up i see a flash"...) then that is NOT usually a retinal problem.  that is your orbital bones or musculature deforming your eye.  that is totally different than the pulling or traction from the INSIDE that occurs from a true retinal problem.  the problem is of course that those two look exactly the same on your end...you a "flash of light" with both of those problems.

if you saw a retinal specialist and they saw nothing, and you can very predictably repeat your own flash, then there is almost no way we're talking about a retinal problem.  its a pressure phosphene.  it is unlikely that any eye doc would "miss" a retinal problem ESPECIALLY when you come in complaining of "flashes". they're going to look HARD for something that would cause traction.  and again, the fact that your flashes are repeatable and predictable really steers me towards some outside force causing temporary globe deformation and a flash.

to make you feel better, there is no eye movement you could ever possibly perform that could cause any retinal problem of any kind.  you cant "look up too hard" or "look up too much", etc etc and cause a retinal tear/hole/detachment.  blunt force trauma can cause a tear/hole/detachment...but thats different.  car accidents, fights, etc etc.  but not looking in some direction.

please dont get a feeling of dread when you see your flash.  it is totally benign.  try and forget about it.
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Avatar_n_tn
this is what i have too...when i look a certain way and then i switch my glance a bit quick then it happens...or when i am staring off into space and then i refocus on something it happens...also when i bend down i feel pressure rising to my head and then it will flash..i also get that feeling of dread whenever i get it like each time it happens i feel like it is tugging on my retina and wearing it down, making it more likely to form a hole or detachment...hearing what the doctor said really made me feel better...thanku..u are so kind for trying to put our minds at ease
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152264_tn?1280358257
This is very reassuring! Thanks very much for explaining that at length. No one ever explained it to me that way.

For several years I've seen flashing white circles (like half-sucked-down Lifesavers) when moving my eyes back and forth after turning out the lights.

Nice to know this is nothing "ominous"--not that I really worried about it, since it's gone on for years with no vision loss.

Nancy T.
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Avatar_n_tn
A related discussion, Silver "balls" falling was started.
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