Q: I've never had vision problems in the past, but recently I've noticed these
odd zigzag shapes in the corner of my left eye. What's really strange is that
they seem to move with my eyes until they slide out of sight and disappear,
only to reappear days later. What are they, and should I be concerned?
Dr. Donnica: Any change in vision should be evaluated sooner rather than
later by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor). It is possible that you are experiencing
something called "vitreous floaters," small specks moving in your field
of vision. Floaters are actually tiny clumps of cells inside the vitreous, the
clear jelly-like fluid inside your eye. Because they are inside the eye, they
move with your eyes when you try to see them. Sometimes vitreous floaters are
accompanied by flashes of light. This may be a warning sign of a detached retina,
which requires medical evaluation. Occasionally, some people may experience flashes
of light that look like jagged lines in both eyes, which may last up to 20 minutes.
These flashes result from a spasm of blood vessels in the brain. When accompanied
by a headache, this is called a migraine. There are situations in which these
jagged lines or waves can occur without a headache; this is called an "ophthalmic
Created: 10/29/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.