What do Flashers Mean in Vision?

When your eye doctor in Riverdale, NJ, asks if you have ever experienced flashers, they are referring to a particular visual phenomenon. Flashers are so called because they often appear like flashes of light, much like the lights that come off of Independence Day sparklers. In fact, flashers are sometimes called sparkles. They may appear in the middle of the field of vision, but most commonly, they appear just off to the side, in peripheral vision.

Common Causes of Flashers

Flashers should always be reported to your eye doctor, as they can be a sign of a serious underlying disorder, though there are times when they may be harmless.


Diabetics are more prone to a disease known as diabetic retinopathy. One of the symptoms of this condition is experiencing flashes. If you see flashers, you should have a diabetic eye exam in Riverdale, NJ, so treatment can be done.

Retinal Detachment

If you notice a sudden increase in the number of flashes that you see, or you are seeing flashes of light that you didn’t before, it could be a sign of a retinal detachment. An immediate, emergency visit to the eye doctor is needed in such a situation. Otherwise, there is a risk of permanent vision loss.

Side Effect of Medication

Certain prescription medications can cause you to see flashers. Be sure to check with the medications list of side effects, and report the phenomenon to your physician so that an alternative medication can be prescribed, if necessary. The problem is that flashers can cause issues if they occur while driving or operation other machinery.

Light Sensitivity

As a person ages, they may become more sensitive to bright lights. Sometimes a change in lighting can cause flashers. In a case like this, the phenomenon can usually be attributed to the natural process of aging.


People who suffer from migraines may experience flashers during migraine episodes. The flashers usually disappear as the migraine subsides.

It’s important to let your eye doctor know any time you start to experience flashers or any other kind of unusual chance in your eyesight. Many serious conditions can be prevented or helped with early treatment. Contact us to book your appointment today.

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