Eye floaters can appear as small spots in front or to the sides of the eyes that are seen only by the person experiencing them. They are often momentary and may be most noticeable when one looks at a blank wall. They are caused by small clumps forming in the vitreous, the gel inside the eye.
The clumps that cause floaters may be made up of proteins, or cells of the vitreous. As we age, the gel that forms that makes up the vitreous can clump more easily, producing them with greater regularity.
People with migraines frequently see eye floaters, which may be accompanied by flashes of light, just prior to getting a migraine. For people who suffer from migraines, they indicate that one should take prescribed migraine medication promptly. Taking migraine medication at the onset of a migraine tends to be more effective.
Eye floaters may also be a symptom occurring after cataract or laser surgery, or if the eye is inflamed from infections like conjunctivitis. They may also be caused by an injury to the eye or inflammation due to a foreign body on the outside of the eye.
Though seeing eye floaters occasionally is quite common, it is not common for them to be accompanied with flashes of light, unless one has migraines. If one does not have migraines and floaters plus flashes of light are noted, this warrants investigation by a medical professional. This is especially the case if you notice a loss in peripheral vision.
These symptoms taken together may indicate some very serious conditions causing the eye floaters. For example, eye disease caused by diabetes is often indicated initially by seeing a lot of floaters. As well, they may indicate the onset of retinal detachment or a retinal tear. They may also point to problems with the veins or carotid artery disease in some cases. When these conditions are not addressed, eye damage can occur or, in the case of vascular or carotid artery disease, eye floaters may indicate likelihood for stroke or heart attack.