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Flashes with no cause

This is long but I’m at a loss. 4 years ago when I was 32 I had a newborn and was getting up non stop. I began having camera like flashes in my left eye every time I got out of bed maybe a handful out of right. Didn’t give them much thought just kept seeing my regular optometrist. Fast forward to now I have had periods of time where I haven’t noticed them, but started to again several months ago. Over the years the flashes are now more of a faint light ball that starts at the top of my peripheral and drifts down in a second and I’ll have one to a few in a row. It mainly happens in bed or within minutes of getting out of bed, but I’ve noticed on occasion during the day or while just laying in bed with my daughter. I have seen a top retina specialist twice and my eyes are perfect and I’m not displaying any neurological symptoms. He suspects this is vitreous related but says is not pvd and looked at my vitreous during one of his tests and found nothing unusual. I’ve looked this up and it doesn’t make sense since sometimes I’ll just be laying down and it will randomly happen with no eye movement. My right up recently started up again too just not as often and I saw him again after it started. I’m starting to lose sleep over this and it happens the more I’m not asleep. I just don’t know what to do and it sounds like if it’s vitreous there’s nothing I can do. I just don’t know anyone else with this problem. Any advice or input would be much appreciated.
2 Responses
177275 tn?1511755244
I would suggest you start by seeing a 'second top retina specialist"  if she/he finds nothing and you don't want to put it to rest at that point you can see a neuroophthalmoloigst which are the Sherlock Holms of ophthalmology. HOWEVER I have heard that story hundreds and hundreds of time and it can be explained by 'vitreous tug' syndrome. Our eyes are never truly at rest and often in dim light or dark they are sensitive enough to create a flash. Last patient was a physician's wife and it lasted 3 years.
18 Comments
Thank you I will take your advice and I feel a little better since no one likes feeling like a medical mystery. The most unnerving part is the unpredictability of the flashes. Some nights are much worse than others. Anyway thank you again
If you find a cause come back and post as a learning experience as over a million visits here per year.
I will and of course it just happened while I was making dinner. It seems worse I don’t know if sleep deprivation makes a difference but I just don’t understand as my eyes were just examined 2 weeks ago.
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I’m sorry to write again, but my appointment is weeks out. I am not sleeping much since I anticipate the flashes and the more I’m not sleeping the more they happen. So I had a few more questions. Would the vitreous still be suspected now that both eyes are doing this? Still the left one more but for example last night I would drift off wake up and both eyes did it within seconds of each other. This is what doesn’t make sense how could they be tugged at the same time? I don’t suspect ocular migraine as it’s still peripheral and lasts seconds. Can sleep deprivation cause these things? It even happened once to my left eye yesterday after sneezing which isn’t the first time, but it’s still not “seeing stars” it’s the same flashes as I see at night. I guess I keep thinking what if it’s my brain, however you would think after 4 years I would have other symptoms. I just don’t understand why it seems different/worse than when it first started and I don’t understand why it wasn’t happening for a few months last year then just came back (coincidentally last year was extremely stressful and it came back during heightened stress). Thank you for listening I’m just so burned out from thinking about this.
Sleep deprivation does not cause this.  Among the most difficult questions in life and medicine: Why me? Why now? Often no good answer and it's fickle fate.  Consider working with your family MD and later perhaps a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you deal more effectively with stress/anxiety/depression.
Thank you I actually am working on these things. I had wanted to just try to ignore the flashes, but this is where I’m stuck-i don’t know if this is something serious that I should keep Persuing
If, as I understand, you have had two retina surgeons examine your retina and things are okay, and have had it 4 years without new symptoms developing or getting a lot worse I would move on to your adjustment to what is likely a chronic but benign symptom
Just updating in case this is of use to anyone or you might have any more input. I did go to a neuro op several weeks ago. Still no “cause” for my flashes. On one hand I am glad no one is thinking it’s serious. On the other it’s hard because I really have to just accept this as is and do not know if it will ever improve or go away. Twice this week the flashes woke me which has never happened (in the eye that more recently started). So of course I’m hoping that’s not going to be a common occurrence. My other last concern since I have read on here about retinal tears is that I won’t know if I have one. Anyway thank you again for your comments I do think it sounds like the tugging, but if you have anything to add I would love your feedback or if anyone reads this I’d love to hear that I’m not alone!
I don't have anything else to add.  Better a little uncertainty but nothing serious than absolutely certain it's extremely serious.
Just thought I would add since you said you wouldn't know if you had a retina tear.  I have been through this twice recently in each eye.  If you consider what you are experiencing now with the flashes as your baseline.  If they get noticeably worse, notice sudden increase of floaters (in my case there were billions of tiny dot floaters that looked like soot/ink), or any vision loss --- call the retina doctor as an emergency.  In my case I did have flashes and floaters beforehand, when the tears/detachment happened there was no mistaking something had happened and quite suddenly.  It was quite an event when it happened.  You have already established relationships with retina dr which is outstanding.  

Note - I also have a recurring issue that I haven't gotten an answer to.  I get daily flickering for 30 minutes in my vision, most every morning.  Eye MD, Neuro guy, General MD, have been unable to find anything.  They just don't know but say it "could be" a migraine aura without headache.   I know I could obsess about it, spend a ton of money and keep pressing for an answer but for now, I am considering it the new normal, unless it gets worse.  Best of luck,  Jim
Thank you I truly appreciate your comment! I like your point about a baseline, because that is exactly what has confused me. Symptoms include flashing well I have that. So thank you. And yes I’m in the same boat I’m trying to just accept things. It’s hard when none of my other 30 and 40 something year old friends have this going on, but I suppose people have a lot of weird things that go on that I just might know about.
Oops might not know about I meant
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Me again! I’m following up on this in case it helps anyone and because, of course, I have questions. First, you were right to begin with about seeing a second retina specialist. I finally did that in October at UCI and got my answer regarding my peripheral flashes: vitreous syneresis. Did oct scan and scleral depression which no other doctors had done. So the liquifying was obvious all other findings normal. So my questions for you are about some things I’ve noticed since this whole ordeal began that I’m trying not to worry about but am. Can the vitreous liquefying cause one to have more of an issue with glare/light sensitivity? What I’ve noticed is that I’ll be outside and get a splotch in my vision that’s maybe pink then fades, but I haven’t looked at anything necessarily it’s just bright out. It also happens in the dark when watching tv (I’ll notice a splotch on ceiling that’s maybe purple). Honestly it happens all day long if I change light settings. And a lot of times it will be around the same spot in whichever eye which is why I wonder if the vitreous shifts and light bounces off the one area. I realize this sounds like a lot but I just don’t know if I’m aware of normal occurrences since the original problem of flashes made me notice my vision or if I have a real problem. The MD isn’t going to find anything if I go back since I noticed this prior to going, which is why I thought I’d ask you! Thanks for listening.
No  liquid vitreous would not cause those symptoms. Lots of posting about things like that. I usually suggest reading the section in widipedia.com about entopic phenomena or the section on retina physiology and the Mesoptic, photopic and scotopic systems.
aura of migraine; goes away in 20 minutes
Migraine aura doesn't last seconds to just a few minutes.
Avatar universal
sometimes is the aura of impending migraine.
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