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Why are emergency showers or eyewash stations important?

We have nothing against eye cream, but when it comes to delivering big-time benefits, eye serums are the answer. The difference between the two is essentially the same as the difference between the moisturizers and serums that you’d use on your face. “Eye creams are thicker, as they contain more oils and fats. Eye floaters and flashes are both caused by the natural shrinking of the gel-like fluid in your eye (vitreous) that happens as you age. Floaters appear in your field of vision as small shapes, while flashes can look like lightening or camera flashes. Eye discharge (rheum) is a function of your tear film and a necessary component of good eye health. It primarily consists of thin, watery mucus produced by the conjunctiva (called mucin), and meibum — an oily substance secreted by the meibomian glands which helps keep your eyes lubricated between blinks.

The first 10 to 15 seconds after exposure to a hazardous substance, especially a corrosive substance, are critical. Delaying treatment, even for a few seconds, may cause serious injury.

Emergency showers and eyewash stations provide on-the-spot decontamination. They allow workers to flush away hazardous substances that can cause injury.

Accidental chemical exposures can still occur even with good engineering controls and safety precautions. As a result, it is essential to look beyond the use of goggles, face shields, and procedures for using personal protective equipment. Emergency showers and eyewash stations are a necessary backup to minimize the effects of accident exposure to chemicals.

Emergency showers can also be used effectively in extinguishing clothing fires or for flushing contaminants off clothing.


What does the law say?

Consult your local occupational health and safety agency in your jurisdiction and check relevant legislation for any requirements to install this equipment. Currently there is no Canadian standard for the design or placement of eyewash stations or emergency showers. As a result, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard Z358.1-2014 'Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment' is generally used as a guide.

Note: since there is no Canadian standard for emergency showers and eyewash stations, the U.S. ANSI Standard Z358.1-2014 was used in preparing this document.


What is considered to be a 'flushing fluid'?

The ANSI standard defines 'flushing fluid' as any of potable (drinking) water, preserved water, preserved buffered saline solution or other medically acceptable solutions. Local laws may apply in some cases. This document will use the term 'water' to mean any of these acceptable flushing fluids unless otherwise specified.


How long should the contact area be rinsed/flushed?

ANSI Z358.1-2014 does not specify how long the affected body part should be rinsed. It does specify that the equipment installed according to the standard be capable of providing flushing liquid for a minimum of 15 minutes.

However, other references recommend a minimum 20-minute flushing period if the nature of the contaminant is not known. The flushing or rinsing time can be modified if the identity and properties of the chemical are known. For example:

  • 5-minutes for non-irritants or mild irritants,
  • 15-20 minutes for moderate to severe irritants and chemicals that cause acute toxicity if absorbed through the skin,
  • 30 minutes for most corrosives, and
  • 60 minutes for strong alkalis (e.g., sodium, potassium or calcium hydroxide).

In all cases, if irritation persists, repeat the flushing procedure. It is important to get medical attention as soon as possible after first aid has been given. A physician familiar with procedures for treating chemical contamination of the eyes and body should be consulted.

Please see the publication The Safety Data Sheet - A Guide to First Aid Recommendations for further details.


What type of equipment should I install?

Emergency showers are designed to flush the user's head and body. They should not be used to flush the user's eyes because the high rate or pressure of water flow could damage the eyes in some instances. Eyewash stations are designed to flush the eye and face area only. There are combination units available that contain both features: a shower and an eyewash.

The need for emergency showers or eyewash stations is based on the properties of the chemicals that workers use and the tasks that they do in the workplace. A job hazard analysis can provide an evaluation of the potential hazards of the job and the work areas. The selection of protection -- emergency shower, eyewash or both -- should match the hazard.

In some jobs or work areas, the effect of a hazard may be limited to the worker's face and eyes. Therefore, an eyewash station may be the appropriate device for worker protection. In other situations the worker may risk part or full body contact with a chemical. In these areas, an emergency shower may be more appropriate.

A combination unit has the ability to flush any part of the body or all of the body. It is the most protective device and should be used wherever possible. This unit is also appropriate in work areas where detailed information about the hazards is lacking, or where complex, hazardous operations involve many chemicals with different properties. A combination unit is useful in situations where there are difficulties handling a worker who may not be able to follow directions because of intense pain or shock from an injury.


What specifications should the equipment meet?

Note: All dimensions and measurements are taken from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z358.1-2014 'Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment'. However, not all dimensions and measurements required by the ANSI standard are listed here.

Emergency Showers

The emergency shower should deliver a pattern of water with a diameter of at least 50.8 cm (20 inches) at 152.4 cm (60 inches). This diameter ensures that the water will come into contact with the entire body - not just the top of the person's head. ANSI also recommends the shower head be between 208.3 and 243.8 cm (82-96 inches) from the floor. The minimum volume of spray should be 75.7 litres/minute (20 gallons/minute) for a minimum time of 15 minutes.

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The shower should also be designed so that it can be activated in less than 1 second, and it remains operational without the operator's hand on the valve (or lever, handle, etc.). This valve should not be more than 173.3 cm (69 inches) in height. If enclosures are used, ensure that there is an unobstructed area of 86.4 cm (34 inches) in diameter.

Eyewash and Eye/Face Wash Stations

Eyewash stations should be designed to deliver fluid to both eyes simultaneously at a volume of not less than 1.5 litres/minute (0.4 gallons/minute) for 15 minutes. The combination eye and face wash stations require 11.4 litres per minute (3.0 gallons per minute). However, in either case, the volume should not be at a velocity which may injure the eyes. The unit should be between 83.8 and 134.6 cm (33 to 53 inches) from the floor, and a minimum of 15.3 cm (6 inches) from the wall or nearest obstruction.

With an eye wash station, the user should be able to open their eyelids with their hands and still have their eyes in the liquid. In the case of the eye/face wash, the user should have enough room to allow the eyelids to be held open with the hands while the eyes and face are still in the stream. As with the shower, the unit should also be designed so that it can be activated in less than 1 second, and it remains operational without the operator's hand on the valve (or lever, handle, etc.) with the valve being located in an easily located place. Since the nozzles to eyewash stations typically need to be protected from airborne contaminants, the units are to be designed such that the removal of these covers should not require a separate motion by the user when the unit is activated.

Self-contained Eye/Face Washes

Install and maintain according to the manufacturer's instructions. Similar requirements apply as with the plumbed units regarding the unit's ability to provide flushing liquid for at least 15 minutes, accessible access, and to deliver tepid flushing fluid.

Personal Wash Stations

Designed to deliver flushing fluid immediately, personal wash stations can be used while transporting the person to the permanent eyewash station or medical facility. These stations do not replace the requirement to have a 15 minute-supply eyewash station. The expiry date of the fluid should be printed permanently on the unit.

Drench Hoses

Drench hoses may be used to 'spot' rinse an area when a full shower is not required, to assist a person when the person is unable to stand or is unconscious, or to wash under a piece of clothing before the clothing is removed. The ANSI standard states that a drench hose may be considered an eyewash or eye/face wash if the drench hose meets the performance requirements as listed in the standard.

Combination Units

This name refers to equipment that shares a common plumbing fixture. Any of the fixtures such as shower, eyewash, eye/face wash or drench hose may be in this combination, but most commonly it refers to a shower and an eye wash station. It is important that pressure and volume requirements for each piece of the unit (as described above) are in compliance with the code.


Where should the emergency equipment be located?

To be effective, the equipment has to be accessible. ANSI recommends that a person be able to reach the equipment in no more than 10 seconds. In practical terms, consider that the person who needs the equipment will be injured, and may not have use of their vision. ANSI notes that the average person can walk 16 to 17 metres (55 feet) in 10 seconds, but this does not account for the physical and emotional state of the person in an emergency.

As such, the '10 second' rule may be modified depending on the potential effect of the chemical. Where a highly corrosive chemical is used, an emergency shower and eyewash station may be required to be closer to the workstation. Check with a professional with knowledge in this area. These units should be installed in such a way that they do not become contaminated from corrosive chemicals used nearby.

The location of each emergency shower or eyewash station should be identified with a highly visible sign. The sign should be in the form of a symbol that does not require workers to have language skills to understand it. The location should be well lit.

Other recommendations include that the emergency shower or eyewash station should:

  • be located as close to the hazard as possible,
  • not be separated by a partition from the hazardous work area,
  • be on an unobstructed path between the workstation and the hazard (workers should not have to pass through doorways or weave through machinery or other obstacles to reach them),
  • be located where workers can easily see them - preferably in a normal traffic pattern,
  • be on the same floor as the hazard (no stairs to travel between the workstation and the emergency equipment),
  • be located near an emergency exit where possible so that any responding emergency response personnel can reach the person easily,
  • be located in an area where further contamination will not occur,
  • provide a drainage system for the excess water (remember that the water may be considered a hazardous waste and special regulations may apply),
  • not come into contact with any electrical equipment that may become a hazard when wet,
  • be protected from freezing when installing emergency equipment outdoors.

What temperature should the water be?

The 2014 ANSI standard recommends that the water should be 'tepid' and defines this temperature as being between 16-38°C (60-100°F). Temperatures higher than 38°C (100°F) are harmful to the eyes and can enhance chemical interaction with the skin and eyes. Long flushing times with cold water (less than 16°C (60°F)) can cause hypothermia and may result in not rinsing or showering for the full recommended time (ANSI 2014). With thermal burns (injuries to the skin), the American Heart Association (2010) noted that water temperatures of 15-25°C (59-77°F) help to cool the burn and that 'cooling reduces pain, edema, and depth of injury'. (However, do not apply ice directly to the skin.)

Remember that any chemical splash should be rinsed for a minimum of 15 minutes but rinsing time can be up to 60 minutes. The temperature of the water should be one that can be tolerated for the required length of time. Water that is too cold or too hot will inhibit workers from rinsing or showering as long as they should.

Install anti-scalding devices (temperature control valve or thermostatic tempering valve), constant flow meters, and other devices that will help maintain a constant temperature and flow rate. For cold or outdoor locations, emergency showers with heated plumbing are available. In hot climates, outdoor emergency showers should also have a tempering valve so that workers are not exposed to water that is too hot.


What are examples of areas that may require this equipment?

Work areas and operations that may require these devices include:

  • Battery charging areas
  • Laboratories
  • Spraying operations
  • High dust areas
  • Dipping operations
  • Hazardous substances dispensing areas

What other factors should I consider when selecting and using this type of emergency equipment?

The following factors should also be considered as part of a hazard analysis when decisions are being made about the selection and use of emergency showers, eyewash stations or combination units:

Potentially hazardous substances in the immediate work area

All hazardous substances need to be properly identified. A review of safety data sheets (SDSs) and labels can help to evaluate the hazard. To select the appropriate eyewash and shower equipment, you must know about the chemicals you use and their potential risks!

Number of workers in an area with a hazardous substance

More than one emergency shower or eyewash station may be required in an area where many workers use hazardous substances. Evaluate how many workers are using the hazardous chemicals, and provide more equipment where necessary to ensure the each worker's protection.

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Isolated workers

The installation of an audible or visual alarm can alert other workers when the emergency shower or eyewash station is being used. An alarm is especially important if only one worker happens to be working in that area. A person may need help in getting to the eyewash if temporarily blinded. Some companies connect valves electrically to warning lights or buzzers in central areas.

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Comfort and warmth

Extra overalls and foot covers should be stored near emergency showers. Clothes contaminated with corrosive or toxic chemicals need to be removed from the injured person. Consider installing a privacy curtain (but remember to maintain the 'obstacle free' diameter dimension as stated in the ANSI standard.)

Quality of the Flushing Fluid

Changing the fluid in self-contained systems frequently and cleaning the units regularly can prevent inadvertent use of contaminated fluid. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for further details. Even in plumbed eyewash stations, the water may contain contaminants such as rust, scale and chemicals. Systems should be flushed and cleaned regularly.

Neutralized Solutions

It seems logical to neutralize exposure to an acid with a base or vice versa. However, there are concerns that attempts to neutralize chemical contamination of the skin or eyes could increase injury by causing:

  • a delay in starting irrigation while first-aid providers search for special irrigating fluids
  • thermal burns from the heat given off when the two chemicals react, and
  • additional injury due to contact with the neutralizing agent.

As noted in research, there is no clear benefit to using a neutralizing agent instead of water. It is critical that flushing a chemical burn as quickly as possible. Water is readily available in most situations. Follow the chemical manufacturer’s instructions but do not delay treatment to search for a specific solution.

More information about first aid for chemical exposures is available in publication The Safety Data Sheet - A Guide to First Aid Recommendations and the OSH Answers First Aid for Chemical Exposures.


Are there any limitations I should be aware of?

Plumbed Emergency Showers and Eyewash Stations

Studies have shown that despite a general minimum of 15-minute flushing time being recommended, users usually flush exposed body parts five minutes or less. The reasons were always related to the extreme discomfort users experienced using cold water. In cold climates, the water temperature in indoor plumbed systems can be in the 2-7°C (35-45°F) range.

Be sure to maintain the equipment. ANSI suggests a weekly activation to help reduce sediment and/or stagnant water issues.

Portable, Self-Contained Eyewash Stations

Portable, self-contained eyewash stations have a limited amount of fluid. As a result, maintenance is critical to ensure that units are fully charged at all times.

These eyewash stations also require ongoing maintenance of the flushing solution. The agents used to control bacterial growth are effective for certain limited periods of time. Also, small amoebae capable of causing serious eye infections have been found in portable and stationary eyewash stations. Consequently it is important to monitor the shelf life of the solution and replace the solution when it has expired.

Eyewash Bottles

Eyewash bottles or personal eyewash units supplement plumbed and self-contained stations, but in no way can replace them. They are portable and permit immediate flushing of contaminants or small particles. However, eyewash bottles are very difficult for the user to handle, especially when alone and when both eyes have been exposed. (e.g., holding the eyelids open while handling the unit is awkward). Also, one bottle cannot flush both eyes simultaneously. Since the fluid supply lasts for only a short period of time, the bottle may not able to wash the eyes sufficiently.

The main purpose of such a unit is to supply immediate flushing. Once accomplished, the user should proceed to a self-contained or plumbed eyewash and flush for the required flushing/ rinsing period.


When should equipment be inspected and maintained?

One person in the work area should be designated responsible for inspecting and operating (activating) the emergency shower, eyewash station, combination units, and drench hoses weekly. A weekly activation will help make sure that there is flushing fluid available as well as clear the supply line of sediments and minimize microbial contamination caused by 'still' or sitting water. This person should keep a signed, dated record. The ANSI standard also recommends a complete inspection on an annual (yearly) basis.

Preventive maintenance inspections should check for such problems as valve leakage, clogged openings and lines, and adequacy of the fluid volume. A work record of these inspections should be kept. Replacement parts should be kept on hand to prevent the system from becoming non-functional. If the system breaks down for any reason, the workers in the area should be properly warned and protected.

Personal eyewash equipment should be inspected and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions and at least annually for overall operation.


What type of training should the workers receive?

All workers require instruction in the proper use and location of emergency showers or eyewash stations before any emergencies occur. It should never be assumed that workers are already aware of the proper procedures. Written instructions should be made available to all workers and posted beside the emergency shower and eyewash station. Part of the instructional process should include a 'hands-on' drill on how to find equipment.

The wearing of contact lenses can be dangerous because chemicals can become trapped under a contact lens. Openscad.org. Any delays caused by removing contact lenses in order to rinse eyes could result in injury. Training should include instruction in contact lens removal.

What are eye floaters?

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There are times when you’re looking at the sky or a blank wall and notice little shapes floating in front of you. They’re not quite clear — almost like little bits of dust stuck on a camera lens. You try to blink them away, but they’re still there. When you look somewhere else, these shapes move with you.

When this happens, you are experiencing eye floaters. Eye floaters are solidified parts of a gel-like substance within the middle of your eye called your vitreous or vitreous humor. As you age, the vitreous starts to shrink within your eye, creating these small particles. Floaters slowly drift through the vitreous. As they move, they pass in front of your macula (the center of the retina), which allows you to see them.

Floaters are very common and, for many people, are a part of the natural aging process. In most cases, you don’t need to treat floaters. They can be annoying at first, but over time you won’t notice they’re there anymore. Sometimes this is mistaken with them going away completely. Floaters can get less pronounced, but they are permanent and stay in eye.

Sometimes, they can be a sign of a more serious eye condition called retinal detachment. In this condition, the shrinking and pulling away of the vitreous (called posterior vitreous detachment) causes the retina to detach. This can cause serious vision problems. Retinal tears are another condition that can be caused by the shrinking of the vitreous. It’s important to remember that as the vitreous shrinks over time, it can create floaters. If you suddenly have more floaters than normal or are experiencing flashes (bursts of light across your field of vision), you should reach out to your eye care provider right away.

What do eye floaters look like?

There are many ways to describe eye floaters. Some people see spiders, medusas, amoebas or clouds. The way you think a floater looks is guided somewhat by your own creativity. If you have floaters, you might see:

  • Squiggly lines.
  • Spots.
  • Spider-like shapes.
  • Thread-like strands.
  • Small shadowy shapes.
  • Black or very dark spots.

There’s no one way you might see floaters and your description of floaters might sound completely different than another person.

What parts of the eye are affected by eye floaters?

When you have eye floaters, they can often appear to be in front of your eye or right on the surface. You may rub your eyes or remove your contact lenses to try to get rid of the dust-like particles. However, eye floaters are located inside your eye. Think of your eye as a ball. To get its round shape, your eye is filled with a gel-like fluid called vitreous. The vitreous is in the middle of the eye with the other structures that allow you to see the world located around it.

Moving from the front of your eye to the back, you have several layers, including:

  • The cornea.
  • The pupil.
  • The iris.
  • The lens.
  • The retina.
  • The optic nerve.

When talking about floaters and their impact on the eye, it’s important to know about the retina. Located at the back of your eye, the retina changes the light that comes into your eye into electrical signals. These signals go to the brain where they become images. When you have floaters in the vitreous, they’re hovering in front of the retina. This casts shadows and shapes on the retina, which you then see as a part of the thing you are looking at.

Are eye floaters normal?

Eye floaters are often a normal and common part of the aging process. As you get older, the fluid within your eyes (vitreous) shrinks. This is normal and doesn’t mean that your eyes are no longer healthy. It is important to maintain regular eye exams over time, especially if you are experiencing floaters. They usually aren’t something you need to be concerned about, but it’s a good idea to have your eyes regularly checked to make sure there aren’t any other serious eye issues.

Can eye floaters happen in only one eye or both eyes at the same time?

Your eyes may not age exactly the same or do everything at the exact same time. The vitreous might shrink in one eye a little faster than in the other. Often, eye floaters are found in one eye at a time. It can happen to both of your eyes, but this usually doesn’t happen at the same time.

What causes eye floaters?

There are several reasons that you might develop eye floaters, but the main one is age. As you get older, the gel-like fluid inside your eye (vitreous) starts to shrink. When the vitreous shrinks, it creates small particles that float down through the fluid. These are your floaters. They eventually settle towards the bottom of your eye where you won’t notice them anymore. This is usually the cause of eye floaters in most people.

There are several other, less common, causes of eye floaters. These include:

  • Having blood in your eye.
  • Experiencing inflammation in your eye.

If you have blood in your eye, it’s often linked to diabetes. A condition called diabetic retinopathy can cause blood from the retina to get into the vitreous. You might see this as dark spots or streaks in your vision. If you have diabetes, you should have regular eye exams to check your vision.

You can also experience inflammation inside your eye. Sometimes your eye can become inflamed (swollen), causing you to experience floaters. This inflammation is called uveitis.

Are eye floaters hereditary?

Eye floaters can happen to anyone as they age. However, other vision issues — like retinal tears or detachment — could be hereditary. If you have a family history of retinal detachment or tears, you might be at a higher risk of developing one in the future. Eye floaters and flashes are potential signs of retinal detachment or retinal tears.

Other risk factors that can be passed down through your family relate to your sight — specifically nearsightedness. If you’re nearsighted, you could be at a higher risk of developing floaters. This could eventually lead to retinal detachment.

However, many people have no family history of retinal detachment or retinal tears when they experience eye floaters. It’s important to remember that eye floaters often happen naturally over time and are a part of the aging process.

Who’s most likely to develop eye floaters?

In most cases, eye floaters develop as you age. They can happen to anyone, but you are at a higher risk of eye floaters if you:

  • Are older (typically over age 50).
  • Are nearsighted (have trouble seeing things that are far away).
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have had eye issues in the past like swelling within your eye.
  • Have had a surgery to correct cataracts.
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What age do eye floaters usually start to appear?

For most people, eye floaters start to show up in their vision between the ages of 50 and 70. However, you can see the occasional floater any time before then. Those are much less common. You may want to check in with your eye doctor about persistent floaters you see at a younger age because it could be a sign of a more serious eye condition.

How are eye floaters diagnosed?

Your eye care provider will usually diagnose eye floaters during an eye exam. Your eyes will be dilated so that your provider can get a clear look at the inside of your eye. This allows the provider to see floaters you have and check on your retina. Making sure your retina is not damaged and there’s no sign of a retinal detachment or tear, is an important part of your eye exam.

You may need to have regular eye exams if your provider finds floaters. This is a precaution and allows your provider to keep track of how your vitreous is shrinking over time. Going to these regular eye exams can help prevent a more serious eye problem from happening down the road.

What questions will my doctor ask me about eye floaters and flashes during an appointment?

During an appointment to diagnosis eye floaters, your eye care provider will want to get as many details as possible about your vision and what you’ve been seeing. This is part of the diagnosis process and helps your provider figure out what’s going on with your vision. The more detail you can provide, the better. Some questions you provider may ask you can include:

  • When did you first notice the eye floaters?
  • What do your eye floaters look like and how many do you usually see at a time?
  • How often do you experience eye floaters?
  • Have you ever seen flashes in your vision?
  • Have you had any eye surgeries in the past?
  • Have you ever had an eye injury?
  • Are any parts of your vision covered (think of a curtain in front of your eyes)?
  • Do you see any shadows on the side of your vision (peripheral)?
  • Do you have any autoimmune diseases?
  • Are you diabetic?

Sometimes it can help to start a journal when you first experience a vision problem. Write down everything you saw and details like how long it lasted. This can be a helpful tool when you go into your provider’s office for your appointment.

How do you treat eye floaters?

The most common treatment for eye floaters is not to treat them at all. Even though they can be annoying and bothersome, eye floaters are usually harmless. They usually drift out of your line of sight and you stop noticing them over time. This can be frustrating for people who notice the eye floaters dancing across their view often, but it’s the safest option in most cases.

Eye Floater Surgery

There is a surgical option for removing floaters, but it involves a lot of risk to your vision. In cases where there are a lot of floaters and they’re starting to impact the way you see, a procedure called a vitrectomy can be used to remove them. This surgical procedure involves using incisions to remove the gel-like vitreous from inside your eye. The vitreous is then replaced with a solution that mimics the vitreous. There are several risks involved in this procedure, including:

  • Developing retinal detachment.
  • Developing retinal tears.
  • Not getting all of the floaters out of your eye.
  • Developing cataracts.

Damage to your sight is a risk of this surgery. For this reason, many providers will carefully discuss all pros and cons of this elective procedure before deciding on this treatment path.

Sometimes your provider may also use a laser to treat floaters. This can break up groupings of floaters, helping move them out of your field of vision. This procedure also has possible side effects.

There are no home remedies to make eye floaters go away. Unfortunately, they are often a natural part of aging. Even though they will fade and not be noticeable anymore over time, they never truly go away.

Will eye floaters go away over time?

For many people, eye floaters do not necessarily go away over time, but they do become less noticeable. They slowly sink within your vitreous and eventually settle at the bottom of your eye. Once this happens, you won’t notice them and will think they have gone away. Your brain will also start to ignore them over time, helping you to not notice that they’re still there on the edges of your vision.

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The floaters will stay in your eye, settled towards the bottom. They don’t go away, but they usually don’t cause issues for most people over the long-haul.

Can eye floaters and flashes be confused with other medical symptoms?

When you are seeing unusual things in your field of vision, it can sometimes be alarming. Floaters are typically harmless, but they can easily be confused with other vision changes like large spots in your vision. These symptoms can be signs of other medical conditions like:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Stroke.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Diabetes.

It’s always a good idea to reach out to your healthcare provider if you have sudden changes to your vision. This could be especially important if you have a medical history of a condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Are eye floaters an emergency?

Eye floaters are usually not an emergency. If you see the occasional eye floater, it typically isn’t something to worry about. You should let your eye care provider know about the floaters and have your eyes checked regularly to make sure there are no other vision issues, but this isn’t an emergency.

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However, if you suddenly have more floaters than normal, reach out to your healthcare provider right away. This could be a sign of a retinal tear or detachment and it will need to be treated quickly.

Can you have eye floaters and flashes at the same time?

You can experience floaters and flashes together or on their own. Both floaters and flashes happen when the vitreous pulls on the retina, creating tension.

What are eye flashes?

Flashes are bright spots or points of light in your field of vision. You can develop flashes for a few reasons, but one of the most common is when the gel-like vitreous in your eye shrinks and begins to pull on your retina. This is called posterior vitreous detachment. You’re more likely to see flashes as you age and the vitreous of your eye naturally shrinks.

For many people, flashes will happen more often first thing in the morning or when you’re in a dark room. You might wake up seeing flashes of bright light that then fade as the day continues.

Who’s most likely to develop eye flashes?

Eye flashes are most often see in:

  • People as they age.
  • Those with migraines.

What do eye flashes look like?

Flashes can be described in several ways, including seeing:

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  • A bright spot or streak of light.
  • A jagged light that looks like lightening.
  • Bursts of light that look like fireworks or camera flashes.

Some people also compare flashes in your vision to when you hit the back of your head and see bright lights for a few moments.

Are eye flashes a symptom of a more serious eye problem?

Eye flashes can be a symptom of retinal detachment or retinal tears. These are serious conditions that can damage your sight. A retinal tear is a break in the retina. A retinal detachment happens when the vitreous pulls away from the retina, creates a break allowing the fluid from the vitreous can get behind the retina and cause damage to your vision.

How are eye flashes related to migraines?

Seeing a flash of light can be one symptom of a migraine. When you have a migraine, your vision can be affected. You might see a flash that looks like a jagged bolt of lightening or a zigzag line. This might look different than a flash you would experience if you have posterior vitreous detachment. Another difference is the age you might experience the flashes. Flashes that are linked to migraines typically happen in younger people, while seeing flashes when your vitreous is shrinking usually happens at an older age. With an ocular migraine you might or might not get a headache.

How are eye flashes treated?

Flashes are usually treated by taking care of the condition that’s causing them. If you’re experiencing flashes related to migraines, treating your migraines can help relieve the flashes. This can also be the case if you are experiencing retinal detachment or a retinal tear. You’ll need to have the condition treated to help relieve the flashes. This is also a serious eye condition that you will need to see your provider about quickly. Remember to reach out to your provider right away if you experience new or more flashes than normal.

When should I worry about eye floaters or flashes in my vision?

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In most cases, the occasional eye floater or flash in your vision isn’t something you need to worry about. This often happens as you age and it’s very normal. However, if you start to notice a lot more floaters than you’ve experienced in the past or many flashes, you should call your doctor. This could be a sign of a serious vision problem like a detached retina. If you have a detached or torn retina, you’ll need treatment.

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It’s important to take care of your eyes, especially as you age. If you notice anything unusual happening with your vision, it’s often a good idea to call your healthcare provider. Having your eyes checked regularly and voicing any concerns is a good way to keep your eyes healthy over time.