ZocdocAnswersWhy am I seeing flashes?

Question

Why am I seeing flashes?

I'm a woman, early 20s, and am very very shortsighted. About two weeks ago I startd seeing flashes in my left eye when I would rotate my eye rapidly. What are the possible causes of this? Do I have to go to a doctor, or can I wait it out?

Answer

This is a very concerning symptom. I am most worried about the possibility of retinal detachment. The retina is the back-most layer of the eye which is involved in sensing and transmitting of the light signals that enter the eye. Occasionally, the retina can separate from the back of the eye, and this is more common in people who suffer from extreme shortsightedness. Symptoms of retinal detachment include flashes of light, especially if they are reproducible with position or eye movement. Other causes of flashes of light, such as migraine, would not be so sensitive to position. Another symptom of retinal detachment would include a sudden increase in the number or size of 'floaters' in the eye or blurry vision. There are also other possible causes of this symptoms, most of which are also potentially serious, including uveitis (an inflammation of the eye) or glaucoma (an increase in pressure inside the eye). All of these conditions are medical emergencies, because they all have the potential to permanently damage vision in the affected eye. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you call your ophthalmologist's (eye doctor) office and make an appointment to be seen as soon as possible.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.