Flashes of Light in Your Vision

Flashes of Light in Your Vision

What's Causing The Flashes of Light in Your Vision

The eye is a complex organ. Proper vision requires the coordination many areas of the eye and brain. Seeing flashes of light in your vision is a sure sign that something has gone wrong. Unless you have a flashlight shining directly in your face, you should never spontaneously see flashes of light in your visual field. There are a few different causes of flashing lights in your vision, and some of them can be quite serious medical conditions.

Retinal Detachment

One of the tell-tale signs of retinal detachment is seeing flashing lights in your vision. The retina is a layer of tissue in the back of your eye. It is responsible for picking up light signals and passing them along to the optic nerve on their way to the brain for processing. The tissues of the retina can become separated from the rest of the eye under certain conditions. Retinal detachment is considered an emergency medical condition; if it is not dealt with immediately, the condition can lead to permanent blindness.

A person with a detached retina will see iridescent spots, stars, and flashing in their eye. In the case of retinal detachment, it is rare that both eyes will be affected. The symptoms can come on gradually, or they can be quite sudden, depending on the root cause.

Retinal detachment should be the first option ruled out as a cause of flashing lights in your vision before moving on to investigate other causes. Failure to properly diagnose retinal detachment can lead to permanent blindness.

A vector structure showing the optic part of the retina.

Eye Trauma

Head trauma, or trauma to the eyes themselves is another cause of flashing lights in your vision. If you’ve ever taken a blow to the head, you know exactly what I’m talking about. “Seeing stars” and dizziness is a common side-effect of taking a good blow to the head. In bad cases it is possible to lose consciousness, and even experience nausea and vomiting.

Migraine Headaches

People who experience migraines as a part of a pre-existing medical condition will often complain of seeing flashing lights in their vision. Migraines most often include not just the headache, but flashes of light and a distinct aura as well. Migraine headaches are often throbbing and located on one side of the head; unfortunately, migraines also have a tendency to last all day. Dizziness, light and sound sensitivity are also some symptoms worth mentioning. In some cases, people will experience nausea and vomiting.


A depiction of a man having a migraine

Eye Floaters and Flashes

In addition to the causes above, it is also possible that you are seeing flashes of light in your vision due to a pre-existing case of eye floaters. Eye floaters are often accompanied by flashes of light in your vision. If you feel like you may have eye floaters but are not sure, feel free to check out our publication describing what eye floaters are here. Furthermore if you feel like acting on getting rid of your eye floaters and flashing lights in your vision, you can do so here.

dissolve eye floaters
How a detached vitreous ends up causing eye floaters and flashes.
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