Fireworks in Your Eyes?
So the big July 4th holiday is moments away and I bet you've got some great plans set to see friends, family, barbecue and watch the sky explode. However, some people experience firework-like flashes in their eyes that have nothing to do with Uncle Sam and our Declaration of Independence. Indeed, flashes in the eye can be a sign or symptom of a totally different, potentially serious condition. Appearing like tiny points of light that dance around and sparkle, such "eye fireworks" are quite beautiful and almost ethereal. This visual anomaly tends to occur more in the corners of your vision, comes and goes, and doesn't really obscure your vision. These lights don't last for any prescribed amount of time and tend to occur more frequently when going from a dark to light environment. I have personally experienced this phenomena several times and I'm always amazed when it occurs. Until doing the research for this blog post, I had no idea what might be the cause. I have a better idea now (as detailed below), although only a visit to the eye doctor can truly diagnose what might be occurring...so do that (see your eye doctor) if you experience this condition. These pretty lights might be a sign of something serious.
"Eye fireworks," as I'll refer to this condition hereafter due to the impending holiday, tends to occur in older people, although young people can experience it too. The most common cause of eye fireworks is due to a small pull on your retina. According to LookAfterYourEyes.org, you may experience a retina pull when: "the vitreous gel inside your eye becomes more liquid and collapses. You may experience flashes occasionally, on and off, over weeks or month. Flashes can also occur if you are hit in your eye. Sometimes flashes just indicate a tug on your retina and nothing more. However, constant flashes may be a sign of retinal detachment."
If you experience an increase in eye fireworks, this may indeed be a sign of retinal detachment occurring. A shadow may be noticed at the edge of your vision as well. If you are experiencing either of these symptoms, get immediate medical attention. Contact your optometrist right away. Once there, you can expect your ophthalmologist to employ special eye drops and a special light to examine your eyes for retina damage.
Migraine headaches can cause eye fireworks as well. However, migraine-related fireworks appear a bit differently than those associated with a pull or detachment of the retina. Instead, migraines can trigger what are called "migraine shimmers," which are like flickering lights that are most often only on one side of your vision with a jagged pattern. Your vision can be obscured in the affected area. Migraine-related shimmers last quite a bit longer (on average) than their retina cousin, but usually dissipate after 10-20 minutes. Often the shimmer precedes the onset of a migraine headache, although some people experience the shimmer effect with no follow-on headache (lucky for them).
In any case, when you experience an anomaly in your vision including firework-like dancing lights or jagged edge shimmers, getting a prompt and thorough exam from your ophthomologist is most certainly the best route. At best you're being treated to a free, fireworks show. At worst it is a sign of something more serious. And like nearly every medical condition, getting treatment early can make all the difference.
Plan to view some real fireworks tonight? Tomorrow? Click here for an excellent safety link on how to properly view fireworks. Header Image Courtesy: msecnd.net