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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the grey spots and flashing lights in my vision?

    I have recently noticed a few grey spots in my vision and when it is dark, occasionally notice flashing lights in the outer corner of my sight. What can cause this? Should I be worried?
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    Dr John H. Chang

    Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

    Dr John Chang is a Sydney-based ophthalmologist with specialist training in cataract surgery, medical retina and comprehensive ophthalmology. At his Strathfield practice, Dr Chang provides … View Profile

    These symptoms can be serious and sound typical of “posterior vitreous detachment”, which is an age-related condition that usually affects those between 40-60 years of age. The grey spots are often described as “floaters” as they tend to move around in your vision (can look like little flies or cobwebs) and are due to degeneration of the vitreous jelly inside your eye that starts to shrink and separate away from the retina. Traction on the retina during this process can cause symptoms of flashing lights. Although most cases of vitreous detachment are benign, they can sometimes be complicated by a retinal tear or hole, which can then lead to sight-threatening retinal detachment. So, your symptoms are important and warrant a prompt (without delay) and a thorough dilated retinal examination by an eye care professional. It is important to exclude any complications such as a retinal tear, which needs urgent retinal laser treatment by an ophthalmologist.

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