I had a weird thing happen this week. In my left eye I started noticing a new floater thing and I swear I saw little sparkly lights in my peripheral vision a few times. I knew that those are symptoms of a retinal detachment which is no joking matter, so I got in right away for an eye exam.
Turns out I had a vitreous (not retinal) detachment which is a much smaller deal. As the doctor explained, as we get older (I get the feeling I'm going to be hearing those words more and more) the jelly-like vitreous that gives our eyeball its shape can become more watery and contract a bit. The floaters are little strings of that material that come loose. The little flashes are caused when the vitreous glob bumps up against the back of our eye (the retina) where the optic nerve connects. Usually in time the floaters and lights become less noticable, but it's not necessarily problematic if it doesn't.
About 1% of the time, a vitreous detachment progresses to a retinal detachment, so chances are there's no need for concern. If I notice any increase of symptoms (more floaters or flashes or loss of vision) however, I need to go in right away, even if that means going to the ER.
Thought I'd share what I learned so if anyone else has this happen, they'll know what to do.
OK, that's the end of my public service announcement. Back to our regularly scheduled programming...