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Eye Flashes and Floaters
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Eye Flashes and Floaters

When I was 15 many floaters started to appear in my eye. Shortly after, flashes started to appear as well. The flashes are just small little dots that seem to shimmer and move throughout my eyes, it seems as though there are hundreds of these occuring at once. They are usually only  visible when I look at something bright, like the sky or a white sheet of paper. After these things appeared I went to the Ophthalmoligist and he did not find a retinal tear. My doctor told me it may just be fatigue and stress causing these problems and that they would disappear eventually. And granted throughout high school and college fatigue probably was an issue.

However, I am now 21 and these floaters and flashes have been with me every day since they first appeared (so over 6 years now). I now get plenty of sleep, but the flashes still appear, so I don't know if the fatigue is an issue. I do notice that when I stretch, hold my breath, or exercise the flashes seem to get worse (there are lines of these small shimmery dots, that look like they're pulsing through veins). I don't know what caused these floaters and flashes to suddenly appear. I don't know what is causing this persistant nature of the flashes, but they are very annoying and I'd like to know what I can do to stop these constant flashes from occuring. Anyone have any suppositions or treatments?

Thanks!
Related Discussions
186890_tn?1192429899
It is unusual to see these symptoms in someone age 15. The tact that you have still get them and have not had any loss of vision indicates that they are most likely benign, but annyoying.  We worry priamrily about flashes and foaters in older patient because it can be a sign of traction on the retinal (producing the flashing) and this can rarely lead to a retinal tear and detachment.  The floaters are located in the vitreous gel in the back of your eye behind the lens.  It would be wise to see and EyeMd who will dilate your eyes and examine the retina and vitreous just to make sure all is well.  Most likley you will have to live with these symptoms.
15 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, I am 16 and I also have begun to experience the exact same flashes, i.e. the ones which occur in bright light which intensify with exercise, and look like small bits of dust pulsing through veins. Does the effect also intensify when you push the bottom or top of your eyeballs? I have also had my eyes examined by an opthamoligist and a optomitrist and they have no explanation. Is it worth having an MRI - as is it likely that these effects are caused by the brain?

Thanks
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow, yeah that sounds exactly like what I have been experiencing. I have not had an MRI, because my doctor sort of shrugged it off and said it would go away after a little while. But I have begun to think that getting an MRI might be a good idea, because the flashes are not going away. I don't know if it's anything serious, I mean it has been 6 years and I have had no other major health problems, so it seems to just be some unexplainable, harmless, and annoying phenomenon. It seems as though it is more of a problem with the brain or with blood flow to the brain, rather than just the eyes. When my heart rate increases, such as after exercise, or whatever, the intensity of the flashes also increases. Anyone have any idea of what may be causing this? And would it be useful to get an MRI?

Thanks.
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Avatar_n_tn
So, I've been doing reading about what may be happening in my eyes for a while, but today I came across something new called "Blue Field Entopic Phenomenon" or "Scheerers Phenomenon." I'm wondering if this could be an explanation for the many flashing dots moving around in my eye? I remember that I got floaters first and went to the doctor, and he told me that if I see flashes of light then this could be a serious problem. I wonder if perhaps after he told me to watch out for flashes if I started to pick up on these subtle flashes that most people ignore. Now I have just become so fixated on these flashes that I can't seem to get them out of my vision. This may also explain why they increase in intensity during exercise.

Any thoughts on this?
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Avatar_n_tn
Well this thread has just broken me out in tears because I have been experiencing this exact problem for the last 9 months (am 23 years old).  I have felt so alone and thought I was the only person in the world who was experiencing it.  It's so annoying (as I'm sure you can all sympathise with) and I have been so worried about it, mainly because my family doctor refuses to send me to an opthamologist yet can offer no explanation to what is going on!  I was perfectly healthy and happy before it started, but since then my life has pretty much been ruled by it.  I hate going outdoors now, whereas I used to live my life for the weekend in the countryside.  I feel so pathetic to have let it do this to me but I just hate it so much.  Looking at any bright background, the sky for example, is just like looking into a snowdome.  I just want it to go away.  

All I want is my mind put at rest.  Am going to my doctor for the 5th time to beg him to send me to an opthamologist.  I just want to know my eyes are ok and then I can get on with my life.

Thanks for putting up with my moaning and good luck to you all.  I hope all of us can get over this because it's horrible.
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233488_tn?1310696703
Hello Post-Grad,  a "gate-keeper" physician should not refuse to refer you to an ophthalmolost for an eye related problem. It's beyond the skill of a GP, FP or Internist.  It's more-over bordering on unethical and generally a violation of the contract with the insurance carrier.

If you are denied a referral to an ophthalmologist I would contact the customer service representative of your health insurance and file a grievance. Also if your insurance is through work there may be an insurance specialist or an agent that works with your company that can assist.

With that type of 'service' from the family doctor you might want to consider finding a new primary care physician, it sounds like your physician just doesn't care.

JCH III MD Eye Physician and Surgeon
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Avatar_n_tn
I saw a different doctor at the same centre today and they finally agreed to refer me.  I'm actually in the UK and things are done a bit differently here.  Getting free health care just means referrals are rationed to those on death's door!  

I can't begin to express how relieved I am after reading this thread.  To know it's almost certainly something benign has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.  I am so grateful.  If only I had seen a doctor like one of you guys 9 months ago I would never have become so low.  To hear other people describe the same symptoms as me, and to read that it's nothing serious is such a relief.  I'm sure the opthamologist will say there's nothing wrong but that's all I want.  I can learn to live with it if I know I'm ok.

I'm going to go out now and try and learn to love the outdoors again.  Thank you!      
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey post grad, yeah read this if you already haven't, and show your opthamolagist because they dont give you an explanation which is frustrating when you are extremely worried.

"The blue field entoptic phenomenon or Scheerer's phenomenon is the appearance of tiny bright dots moving quickly along squiggly lines in the visual field, especially when looking into blue light (such as the sky).[1] This is a normal effect that can be perceived by almost everybody. The dots are due to the white blood cells that move in the capillaries in front of the retina of the eye, near the macula.[2]

Blue light (optimal wavelength: 430 nm) is well absorbed by the red blood cells that fill the capillaries. The brain "edits out" the dark lines that would result from this absorption. The white blood cells, which are much rarer than the red ones and do not absorb the blue light well, create gaps in the blood column, and these gaps appear as bright dots.

In a technique known as blue field entoptoscopy, the effect is used to measure the blood flow in the retinal capillaries. The patient is alternatingly shown blue light and a computer generated picture of moving dots; by adjusting the speed and density of these dots, the patient tries to match the computer generated picture as best as possible to the perceived entoptic dots. This then allows calculation of the blood flow in the capillaries. This test is important in diseases such as diabetes which can cause retinopathy.

Scheerer's phenomenon should not be confused with "floaters" or muscae volitantes. Scheerer's phenomenon is distinguished by the appearance of multiple, identical-looking bright dots that follow each other rapidly along the same path. Floaters are variable in appearance; although they sometimes are dots, they often have the appearance of threads or shreds of crumpled cellophane. Floaters remain almost stationary or drift slowly and do not follow well-defined paths. They are due to debris floating in the vitreous humor of the eye.

The singer/songwriter Juliana Hatfield alludes to blue field entoptic phenomenon in her song "I See You" which includes the line, "What are all those dizzy circles in the corner of my eye? / They laugh and float away as I look into the sky."

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Avatar_n_tn
However I am wondering if it may be wise to have a white cell count (i.e. a blood test) just incase you have high levels of white blood cells due to some other factor.
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Avatar_n_tn
Here is a scientific study proving the cause of this problem i.e. basically seeing your white blood cells in the vessels in front of your retina.

http://www.iovs.org/cgi/reprint/30/4/668.pdf

Everyone 'can' see this effect but if you think about it, your brain will not block it out like it does with a normal person. So now you know its normal your brain should eventually block it as you no longer need to worry or think about it.

Thanks, hope this relieves your burden.
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233488_tn?1310696703
Save your money. Everyone has this. Not everyone can tune in on it and not everyone can tune out of it.

JCH MD
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Avatar_n_tn
Im from New Zealand so blood tests are free here.
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233488_tn?1310696703
Then save the taxpayers some money. Socialized medicine is never "free".

JCH III MD
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Avatar_n_tn
I, too was having the same problems with my eyes, especially after playing tennis.  But I found that as long as I drank my "electro-mix" which is high in magnesium, potassium, maganese, etc. The floaters disappeared.  There seems to me a connection with not getting enough minerals in your body. Try a good mineral supplement and see if you find relief.  Stress, and tight back and neck muscles seem to affect it too. Be of courage!
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Avatar_n_tn
I am so glad that I came across this! I am 28 years old and this past April I was in a bad car accident. Following the accident, I started experiencing floaters in my vision. I went to two different eye doctors and they both said that everything looks fine and that the floaters should go away within a month. Well..it's been over 5 months and I still experience floaters every day. They are the worst when I look at something bright, especially the sky. I've basically been wearing sunglasses outside every day, even when it's cloudy, because I hate seeing the floaters. I've been going crazy wondering why I have this and worrying if it will ever go away or if there is something more going on and that my vision could be jeapardized. I'm just glad I came across this. It helps to know that I am not the only one experiencing this.
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Avatar_m_tn
A related discussion, Is there a cure for flashes and floaters for extreme? was started.
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