Sudden strange eye symptoms including flashes and floaters. Help!

Posted , 7 users are following.

Hi, I’m 14 and I’ve been moderately shortsited (-4.5 in the left and -4.75 in the right) for about 5/6 years now. About 3/4 weeks ago we had a thunderstorm with a lot of lighting. I walked into my kitchen which was well lit (this was in the daylight) and saw a sudden white flash in the whole of my vision, almost like somebody had just flashed a bright torch on and off infront of me quickly, I assumed it was lightning. This has happened quite a few times now and for the first probably 7 times it happened I just assumed it was lightning, and continued to assume this until I was sitting in class one day at school about 2/3 weeks ago and saw 2 little dots floating across my vision. I knew they were floaters as I have heared about them before, but I have never had any of these issues with my vision apart from shortsightedness. It worried me instantly, so went home and researched all about them. I am aware they could be harmless but I have a very bad feeling about it, and have seen that if you’re experiencing floaters along with the flashes, there could be something wrong. At first it was occasional small floaters and flashes, but they’ve gotten increasingly and rapidly worse. 

It’s been sunny lately so we’ve been outside barbecuing and what not, and these floaters just won’t leave me alone! I now see them everywhere, even when looking at peoples faces or reading in places that aren’t even well lit! (although they’re usually more visible when I’m somewhere bright, eg looking at the sky) I continue to see them in all lighting now. And not to mention they’re really big now and I just can’t go a single day without seeing at least 40/50. They can be the strangest shapes too. (Lines/squiggles/swirls/clumps/circles/mounds etc) I’ve had GCSE’s in school these past 2 weeks and can’t concentrate becuase I just see floaters drifting across my paper and the wall. I see strange things too, almost like strange dark shapes just floating around (they’re not floaters), mostly in my prephiral vision. Back to the flashes, once I had researched floaters I noticed that they’re sometimes paired with ‘flashes of light’, this is when I noticed that that is what I was experiencing. Sometimes I will see full vision flashes as previously explained but now, they’re mostly little flashing white or black dots (sometimes the black dots pulsate in my left eye) in my vision. I am experiencing eye pain occasionally. I noticed that for the past 6 months, my eyesight is getting rapidly worse, I know this is normal for teens but I’m talking about seriously rapidly: I recieved new, stronger glasses approximately 5/6 months ago, and just under 2 months later my shortsightedness had gotten even worse by 3 steps!! This is now happening frequently. For about 4 months now, I have suffered with bad night vision, where I walked into my room in the dark one evening and saw that I was seeing more than double of the light on my digital light up clock (the numbers light up). This also got increasingly worse and I now experience severe glare and haloes, and also the triple vision and glare of light constantly, not just in the dark, but even in full daylight. For example, if I look at a street lamp I will see huge white lines coming out of it, or if there are subtitles on a screen I will see multiple of them. I recently went to the optician to explain these glare issues etc (I had not yet experienced the flashes or floaters) who said she wasn’t sure what was wrong, gave me stronger glasses and said to go to the doctor if symptoms persist/get worse. They did! I went to the doctor who didn’t do any tests on my eyes (this was at the stage when I still thought the flashes were lightning, so I only mentioned the glare/ double vision of light) and he just asked me to read something, sat me down and booked me an appointment with the ophthalmologist at the hospital. It is since then my symptoms of floaters and flashes have been revealed and everything is getting worse by the day. I have no idea when my ophthalmologist appointment is and have been waiting for a little while now. I don’t know what to do! It’s really affecting me. Something that’s also happening is I sometimes see a dark shadow/ circle just fly across my vision (not floaters) at any time. They can be white or black, but usually black. I can sometimes see a shower of flashing white dots in my vision and I know that all of this is very abnormal for my age. I can feel that something is wrong, I’m just not sure what!? Does anyone have any ideas/suggestions? Is this serious? Should I try to push for my ophthalmologist appointment? My Grandad has glaucoma, but my optician tested for that and I do not have it. All of these symptoms get worse by the day! As I say, none of this has ever happened before! Everything that appeared, appeared so suddenly, none of it was gradual. P.S- sorry for how long this is!!😂

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  • Posted

    "Should I try to push for my ophthalmologist?"

    Yes (but you were going to anyway) and get yourself checked for retinal detachment. It seems rare, but just quickly googling it it can happen to kids.

  • Posted

    For the record, these are listed as symptoms of retinal detachment:

    - The sudden appearance of many floaters — tiny specks that seem to drift through your field of vision

    - Flashes of light in one or both eyes

    - Blurred vision

    - Gradually reduced side (peripheral) vision

    - A curtain-like shadow over your visual field

    I have several of those myself and have had for years, but it was due to eye trauma.

    Also, don't trust an optometrist. Their main profession is selling eye wear, they should not be trusted for important matters to deal with potentially serious issues regarding your eye sight.

    • Posted

      Thank you for getting back to me as well. I appreciate it. I only responded because you are a child and what you're describing is potentially very serious (but you also have to be careful to not let your imagination go wild). I am not an expert, but wasn't sure anyone else would respond in a timely manner. Because I know from my searches that what you are describing is potentially very serious (bear in mind that having symptoms does not necessarily mean having a particular condition: they could overlap with other conditions of a less significant nature... for instance, I have lots of black specks, nooses and a patch moving across my field of view and I haven't gone blind from it in over 15 years).

      Regarding optometrists, their qualifications differ depending on country. It is entirely possible American optometrists are more reliable than others. It is also possible other optometrists are just as reliable. Without knowing which country you are in, I should assume the worst case scenario. Your eyes are too important to assume otherwise. Besides, I'm not convinced even the more qualified version of an optometrist is that reliable (you could take the other persons comments as being informative given their profession, or you could read into it that they have a particular bias because of who they work for... the person they work for could also be an excellent eye expert, but others not). Heck, I don't even trust othmantologists or doctors very much. I don't trust anyone who calls themselves 'experts', including non-medical (my experiences which shaped this opinion are from those who call themselves 'audio experts', least of all those whose chief profession is being a salesperson as with an optometrist who often come across as more interested in shepherding you away from your concerns into spending money at their shop. You should always be thorough and get a number of opinions if it pertains to something potentially life impacting because humans are fallible, and people throw out the word 'expertise' like loose change. Try not to get paranoid or carried away, you are too young for that, but be cautious.

      Sensory death is IMO one of the worst fates possible for a living creature, especially a child. I'm sorry if I'm sounding dramatic, but the implications are potentially dramatic. I'd be upset if it was a kitten who went blind, let alone a person. I don't know the 'expert' you saw from a hole in the ground and it is always better to err on the side of caution in anything in life. It is unlikely you have a very serious eye condition, but there is always that possibility no matter how slim. There is also the possibility your concerns are not being taken seriously because of your age, that you are being talked down to. I am an adult, but even I get the feeling I am treated like a child by these people because I am not particularly assertive. For instance, I am getting segmented rainbow halos (BIG circles within circles (white, yellow, blue and then red) arounds lights) that precisely match the halos depicted by those suffering from severe forms of glaucoma in images they have produced online (I drew them down before I ever saw these images). I had a negative assessment years ago and went back in recently to an optometrist wondering if those years had taken their toll on my peripheral vision. I asked for a field test. He tested my eye pressure using 3 different machines. The first two came back as high pressure, but the third came back as normal so he determined: no glaucoma (if it is closed-angle glaucoma, the pressure comes in spikes called attacks so I am under the impression it may not always be detectable). He actually told me I had a 'chromatic aberration' caused by the abnormal thickness of my corneas and that tricked the other machines into recording I had high eye pressure. He could be right, it could be causing my halos (from what I know it doesn't seem to match what I see, they are not double-vision or kaleidoscopic outlines, but what he says about focusing issues seems to be correct) but I am aware there is always the possibility they could be wrong so wanted a field test to test my peripheral vision. That's what I went in for. Anything short of that would not diminish my concerns. He didn't give me it. And I didn't demand it, which I should have. Instead, as usual he spent most of the time getting new assessments on my general eyesight for a prescription to spend at his store. It doesn't deal with my issues that my peripheral vision may be diminishing (eg. I shut the cat inbetween two doors twice neutral not seeing him there; he went totally like a Garfield suction toy standing up against the security door but was otherwise unharmed despite me me acting like Mr Magoo and trying to force it shut for some time). I ended up spending money on his glasses and every time I read is coming up double-visioned. I don't appreciate that kind of treatment.

      When I was a baby, I had to be put on machines or something due to my asthma. Over the next few decades, I had several incidents with breathing that were extremely painful when lying down (like inhaling razors) preventing me from sleeping at all for several days each time. My mother didn't believe I still had asthma. I had an asthmatic brother who was on ventolin, but I was told I was imagining it. After one incident where I could barely breathe in my 20s, I went into the doctors and got a prescription but the way he spoke to me angered me, he seemed to imply I was imagining it and I threw away the inhaler in anger. Finally, last year I went through one of the incidents and went into the GP after several days. I was put on a ventolin machine for about 30 minutes and used up all the full dosage and then urged to go into hospital. A part of me was just finally happy to be diagnosed with ANYTHING as it is all a nonstop fight after being continually told everything I went through was just my imagination. It took me 3 decades, but I finally got an assessment and not the 'you're making things up' kind. This is just one example. I know the feeling of not having your concerns being taken seriously too well.

      You should be young and carefree. I don't mean to make you health obsessed. But you should also be taken seriously.

    • Posted

      Opthamologist. I was offline when writing and couldn't spell check. Whatever...

    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your response. And I don’t feel you’re being dramatic, I feel glad that someone will tell me all of the potential problems. I experienced a new symptom when looking at a cloudy sky today, where I suddenly saw probably about 20/25 flashing swirls at one time, and they looked like they were genuinely in front of me. They were moving fast and swirling. Part of me feels that maybe I should just ignore everything and that the opthalmologist is just going to tell me that there’s nothing wrong with me so I will just have to live with these awful problems, but another is saying that there’s something really wrong. I’m so confused! 
    • Posted

      Even though I've never been vuluntarily admitted to hospital, I have heard you can show up like that and that they will test your concerns far more quickly than waiting for an 'eye expert' appointment. I was told that I could show up about my asthma and also get my heart checked out (there are concerns there as well).

      I don't know about the swirls, but there are some things that are considered harmless. Like seeing flashing specks every now and then.

  • Posted

    First I would like to correct the statement of not trusting optometrists, there are many that do an amazing job and they do check for Glaucoma, ARMD, retinal detachments etc. I know this as I work for an optometrist. But back to your question. I would not worry about Glaucoma, your symptoms would be different. Many people do have vitreous degeneration with floaters and flashes and it is usually harmless.  For yourself my concern would be that the floaters and flashes are significantly increasing. I personally would call the Opthamologist and tell them you are calling because you have not received your appt yet and are concerned because you are now having flashes of light and a significant increase in floaters. They should get you in quickly. Sometimes it is nothing and the flashes will eventually stop but if you have a retinal tear the sooner it is found the better. Hope this helps. Good luck.
    • Posted

      Thank you so much for replying so fast! I really appreciate it. You’ve most certainly been helpful. I will call and ask for a sooner appt. Thanks again.
  • Posted

    It sounds like your Vitreous has liquefied and you're in the process of a posterior Vitreous detachment. I have all of the symptoms that you have described. You should follow up with an opthomologist. Also it sounds like you have blue field entopic phenomenon. I'm here for you, these issues are so hard to deal with.

    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your reply, it’s good to know that someone else has the same symptoms. Thank you for your kind words and the same to yourself. 
    • Posted

      You're welcome. We can stay in touch through the process. It's nice to have other people who understand what you're seeing

    • Posted

      Just read this:

      "Sometimes a section of the vitreous pulls the fine fibers away from the retina all at once, rather than gradually, causing many new floaters to appear suddenly. This is called a vitreous detachment, which in most cases is not sight-threatening and requires no treatment.

      However, a sudden increase in floaters, possibly accompanied by light flashes or peripheral (side) vision loss, could indicate a retinal detachment. A retinal detachment occurs when any part of the retina, the eye’s light-sensitive tissue, is lifted or pulled from its normal position at the back wall of the eye.

      A retinal detachment is a serious condition and should always be considered an emergency. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent visual impairment within two or three days or even blindness in the eye.

      Those who experience a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light in peripheral vision, or a loss of peripheral vision should have an eye care professional examine their eyes as soon as possible."

      I knew it was an 'emergency' condition, but I thought you could probably could hold out long enough for the 'o' guy. They probably in all likelihood are basing their 'within days' claims on worst case scenario, but you should get it looked into promptly. Even if it's nothing, even if we're making you paranoid, you need to make sure. Not sure what would happen if you showed up at a hospital, whether it'd leave your family with a huge bill or not. Not sure how those things go. But I would feel more comfortable if you found some way of accelerating the time schedule.

    • Posted

      Thank you so much for that information, it’s very helpful! I’ve just put in an urgent appointment.

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