Seeing Flashes of Light
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Reviewed By:

Ami Shah Vira, MD

Ami Shah Vira, MD (Ophthalmology)

Dr. Shah Vira grew up in Arizona. She moved to Chicago to complete a combined engineering and medical program at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Chicago Medical School. She completed a highly competitive two year dual fellowship in Neuro-ophthalmology and Oculoplastic at the highly regarded Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Shah Vira specializes in surgical correction of the eyelids and eyebrows, eyelid malposition and tumors, excessive tearing, and conditions involving the orbit.

Masashi Mimura, MD

Masashi Mimura, MD (Ophthalmology)

Dr. Mimura Graduated from the Osaka Medical College and obtained his ophthalmologist certification in 2007. He opened an outpatient clinic for oculoplastic and reconstructive surgery at Osaka Kaijo Hospital. Subsequently, he was appointed as the assistant professor at the Department of Ophthalmology, Osaka Medical College, in 2014. He then served an international fellowship at the Department of Ophthalmology/Oculoplastic and Reconstructive Surgery, California State University, San Diego. Since then, he has been appointed as Lecturer in the Departments of Ophthalmology at Osaka Medical College and Toho University Medical Center Sakura Hospital. Dr. Mimura is currently the Director of Oculofacial Clinic Osaka, where he specializes in Oculofacial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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Content updated on Dec 3, 2023

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  • Flashes of light in vision

  • Light flashes in vision

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About the Symptom

Flashes of light can be tiny or cover part of the vision. These may be intermittent or constant. They can sometimes be a sign of a retinal detachment and should be evaluated by an eye doctor.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Seeing flashes of light

Possible causes

Generally, Seeing flashes of light can be related to:

  • Cataracts

    Degeneration of the lens inside the eye causes it to become opaque. As a result, lights appear glaring and vision becomes blurred. In older adults, cataracts are usually caused by aging. In children, however, they may be due to genetic conditions, drugs, or viral infections while in the womb.

  • Migraine

    A type of headache that typically presents as throbbing, pulsating pain on one side of the head, sometimes with associated nausea or sensitivity to light and sound. Sometimes, sensory disturbances, such as vision changes (seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines), can occur before the headache. The pain may worsen on exposure to bright lights or loud noise. Triggers for migraine include stress, poor sleep, caffeine, and hormonal changes in women.

  • Diabetic retinopathy

    Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that causes vision loss in patients with diabetes due to damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Your retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of your eyes and is responsible for turning the light signals your eyes receive into images in your brain. These damaged vessels in the retina result in blurred vision or even vision loss.

  • Pathologic myopia

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Retinitis pigmentosa

  • Central retinal vein occlusion
  • Diabetic macular edema (DME)

  • Age-related macular degeneration

Related serious diseases

Sometimes, Seeing flashes of light may be related to these serious diseases:

  • Retinal detachment

    An eye condition causing holes in vision when looking at objects. It is due to the retina (sensing layer of the eye) peeling off, usually because of aging, eye injury, or diabetes.

Doctor's Diagnostic Questions

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom:

  • Do you see flickering or flashes of light in the dark?

  • Do you have headaches or a heavy feeling in your head?

  • Are your eyes red, painful, or itchy?

  • Do you see floating shapes or dots in your vision (like insects)?

  • Do you have difficulty moving your eyes in a specific direction?

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Find Similar Symptoms

Similar symptoms or complaints

References

  • Flashes of light - American Academy of Ophthalmology

    https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-floaters-flashes

Reviewed By:

Ami Shah Vira, MD

Ami Shah Vira, MD (Ophthalmology)

Dr. Shah Vira grew up in Arizona. She moved to Chicago to complete a combined engineering and medical program at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Chicago Medical School. She completed a highly competitive two year dual fellowship in Neuro-ophthalmology and Oculoplastic at the highly regarded Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Shah Vira specializes in surgical correction of the eyelids and eyebrows, eyelid malposition and tumors, excessive tearing, and conditions involving the orbit.

Masashi Mimura, MD

Masashi Mimura, MD (Ophthalmology)

Dr. Mimura Graduated from the Osaka Medical College and obtained his ophthalmologist certification in 2007. He opened an outpatient clinic for oculoplastic and reconstructive surgery at Osaka Kaijo Hospital. Subsequently, he was appointed as the assistant professor at the Department of Ophthalmology, Osaka Medical College, in 2014. He then served an international fellowship at the Department of Ophthalmology/Oculoplastic and Reconstructive Surgery, California State University, San Diego. Since then, he has been appointed as Lecturer in the Departments of Ophthalmology at Osaka Medical College and Toho University Medical Center Sakura Hospital. Dr. Mimura is currently the Director of Oculofacial Clinic Osaka, where he specializes in Oculofacial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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