Koch Eye Associates

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Retina Center


Retina Specialists Providence and Warwick, Rhode Island

At Koch Eye Associates, our Rhode Island medical and surgical retina specialists are among the most highly trained in their field. We have extensive experience with the diagnosis and treatment of retinal and vitreal conditions; including both surgical and non-surgical procedures. Our physicians use the latest techniques and will partner with you to tailor a program to help you maintain your vision throughout your lifetime.

What are floaters?

Floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear jelly-like fluid filling the inside of your eye. Floaters can have different shapes: little dots, circles, lines, or cobwebs.

Floaters and Flashes

While floaters appear to be in front of your eye, they are actually floating inside. What you see are the shadows they cast on the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and allows you to see.

What causes floaters and are they serious?

As people age, the vitreous gel may start to thicken or shrink, forming clumps or strands inside the eye. The vitreous gel can pull away from the back wall of the eye, causing a posterior vitreous detachment. This is a common cause of floaters.

Posterior vitreous detachment is more common in people who:

  • are nearsighted;
  • have had cataract(s) removed;
  • have had YAG laser surgery of the eye;
  • have had inflammation inside the eye.

The sudden appearance of floaters should be evaluated by your eye doctor, especially if you are over the age of 45.

The retina can tear if the shrinking vitreous gel pulls away from the wall of the eye, sometimes causing a small amount of bleeding in the eye that may appear as new floaters. A torn retina is always a serious problem because it can lead to a retinal detachment. If you see new floaters appear suddenly, or sudden flashes of light, you should see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. If you notice any other sudden changes such as loss of side vision, you should see your ophthalmologist.

What can be done about floaters?

Floaters can get in the way of clear vision, which can be quite annoying, especially if you are trying to read or do some type of close work. You can try moving your eyes, looking up and down to move the floaters out of your field of vision. The good news is that many floaters will fade over time and become less bothersome.

What causes flashing lights?

When the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina, you may experience what looks like flashing lights or lightning streaks. The flashes can appear off and on for weeks or months. It is more common to experience flashes as we grow older, but if you notice the sudden appearance of light flashes, you should see your doctor immediately to see if the retina has been torn.

Some people experience flashes of light that appear as jagged lines or "heat waves" in both eyes, often lasting 10 to 20 minutes. These types of flashes are usually caused by migraine, a spasm of blood vessels in the brain. If a headache follows the flashes, it is called a migraine headache. Sometimes jagged lines or "heat waves" occur without a headache and in this case, it is called ophthalmic migraine.


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The Greater New Bedford Surgical and Laser Center

The Greater New Bedford Surgical and Laser Center was opened in 1986 with the express purpose of rendering high quality, state of the art eye surgery to patients of all ages, especially those with cataracts, glaucoma, or cornea disease. The Center is designed specifically with the needs of the patient in mind. The entire process from initial examination to final outcome is conducted in a pleasant comfortable environment.

After a patient decides to have surgery, he or she is assigned his or her own Surgical Counselor who is available to answer questions and provide assistance. These individuals are specially trained to assist the patient throughout the entire surgical experience, including follow up care for as long as necessary. Patients are encouraged to contact their counselor for any questions, no matter how simple or complex.