There are several reasons why you might suddenly see flashes of light. These flashes come from inside your eyes instead of from lights or anything outside of your body. While some flashes are harmless, others can be very dangerous and could indicate a serious medical emergency.

What Causes Flashes of Light in Your Eyes?

Seeing occasional sudden flashes of light that quickly disappear as we get older can be a common occurrence. Many flashes happen because the vitreous gel inside our eyes shrinks or begins to dry out. When this happens, it pulls on the retina, which is usually harmless. You might also see flashes if you rub your eyes too hard or get hit in the eye. Both reasons are because some measure of physical force has been applied to your retina.

If you experience migraines, you may see light flashes that stay around for a little while. They may soon be followed by a headache. These flashes could be a migraine aura.

A life-threatening reason for light flashes could be that you are having stroke. If the flashes are accompanied with sudden weakness, numbness, slurred speech, or headache, you should call 911 and seek immediate medical treatment.

When Should You Be Concerned?

While most occasional flashes of light are harmless, you should mention them to your eye doctor during your next eye exam. However, if you are suddenly seeing repeated light flashes, or notice other changes in vision like blurriness or new floaters it could be that your retina has torn or has become detached. If not treated quickly, you could experience permanent vision loss in the affected eye.

Contact your eye doctor immediately if you:

  • Have a sudden increase in light flashes
  • See flashes when you have never had them before
  • Have been hit in your eye or face and are seeing light flashes
  • See what seems like a “curtain” or dark area across your vision
  • Have flashes of light accompanied with dark spots or cloudiness.

Sudden, unexplained changes in your vision like flashes of light should never be ignored. Do not risk your eyesight. Call the Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700 or go online to schedule an immediate appointment with one of our eye doctors.