Floaters / Black Spots

Sparkles or flashing lights, often in the periphery of one or both eyes, are possible symptoms of a number of conditions. Book an appointment straight away so we can determine the cause and decide if and what help you may need.

Sparkles, shapes that glitter or flashes of light that may last a few moments and then disappear, are caused by disturbance of the retina – the layer of tissue that sends the information about light to the brain.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)

As we age (normally over the age of 50 years), the jelly-like fluid at the back of the eye called the vitreous, separates from the retina pulling on tiny nerves in the retina. This causes sparkles, which are perfectly normal as we mature, and needs no treatment.


Those black spider like, dots or cobwebs are protein clusters and a natural occurrence in the aging eye, however if they are get worse suddenly and or are accompanied by flashing lights you need to book an appointment with us or get advice by ringing 111.

Retinal detachment

When the jelly separates from the retina it sometimes tears the retina causing it to detach from the back of the eye. This results in lots of floaters (protein clusters) being seen, which can look like cobwebs. If they occur suddenly, in increased numbers, together with a flashing light – it could be a retinal detachment. This is a serious condition where your vision will be permanently affected if not treated quickly.

You can book an appointment with us to be seen urgently or get advice by ringing 111.

Factors that increase risk of retinal detachment

  • Near sightedness
  • A history of trauma or injury
  • Cataract surgery
  • Previous retinal detachment surgery
  • Increasing age

Our Examination

Your history, an examination of your eye separately and together, pupil response ophthalmoscopy (where we look at the inside of your eye), and a visual field test can tell us if your retina is in place. An OCT will enable us to identify how the layers in your retina are functioning and detect possible pressure points that indicate the early signs of retinal detachment, which needs treating as soon as possible to increase the chances of retaining your good vision.

Should we detect a detached retina, we will refer you immediately. The good news is that this condition, once detected, can be treated. We will refer you with all your examination results. If you have chosen one of our packages this will include further in-depth results, which will enable the ophthalmologists helping you to potentially prepare for your arrival and treat you as a confirmed case.

Optic neuritis occurs when the optic nerve becomes inflamed as a result of an infection.

Using a bright light, we are able assess your pupil responses for infection or ocular changes. If you choose one of our packages, we will be able to conduct other tests to determine more accurately and sooner, the exact thickness of your optic nerve fi that can cause blindness if not treated urgently and to compare your visual field results to detect early patterns of visual field loss. Should we suspect this condition, you will be referred for further examinations to confirm the diagnosis which may include blood tests, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and/or angiogram retinopathy. Treatment may involve medication although the condition usually improves on its own.

Diabetic retinopathy can cause the blood from the retina to get into the vitreous jelly and you then see dark spots or streaks in your vision. Scar tissues, formed from tiny burst blood vessels can then pull the retina away from the back of the eye causing retinal detachment.

By observing your optic nerve using an ophthalmoscope we can detect the presence of diabetic retinopathy. If you are on one of our packages we can compare previous examination results including OCT results, which are designed to pick up diabetic retinopathy up to four years sooner than photographic imagery alone. This combined with the results of other tests including visual fields, confrontation, history, visual acuity will enable us to take the necessary action including referring you for treatment. This may include laser to seal leaking blood vessels.

Migraines can also cause you to experience flashes, normally resolving when the headache begins. However they can also be mistaken for a retinal detachment because of the presence of flashes similarly seen in retinal detachment.

Intraocular melanomas

Often cancer within or around the eye has no symptoms. However flashes of light, wiggly lines, partial or total vision loss or a lump on your eyelid, can all be indicators that need cancer to be ruled out.

A history along with a comprehensive eye examination will help us to detect or rule out the presence of melanoma within or around the eye causing flashes and floaters. We will refer you with the results of the examinations conducted. Your ophthalmologist will conduct a series of further tests including blood tests, an ultra sound and a fluorescein angiogram: A photograph using a special camera after dye has been injected into your blood stream. There are ranges of treatments available with early diagnosis improving outcome.