Help and frequently asked questions

What could be causing flashing lights in the corner of my eye?


If you are experiencing flashing lights in the corner of your eye it is a good idea to visit an optometrist as there is a chance you are at risk of a retinal detachment. The retina is a thin lining of light-sensitive cells at the back of your eye, and when they begin to pull away from the blood vessels that supply them with oxygen you can go blind in that eye.

The flashing is caused when the vitreous gel in the centre of the eye shrinks, which tugs on the retina. This pulling motion, called vitreous traction, commonly occurs at the edge of your field of vision. While this tugging is often normal and harmless, it can occasionally create a tear in the retina and lead to a detachment. If the flashing is frequent, persistent or has come on suddenly, it is more of a concern.

Detachments most commonly occur because of age, with the retina becoming thinner and more brittle as you get older. However, a direct injury to the eye can also cause the condition. Aside from flashing lights in the corners of your eye, there are other symptoms that can accompany a retinal detachment. These include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • 'Floaters' - dark spots or rings that float around in your field of vision

A retinal detachment can also occur without any previous warning signs. In these cases, you may experience a dark curtain or shadow effect coming across your vision. There may also be sudden and immediate vision loss. Due to the severity of retinal detachments and their potential for serious and permanent loss of eyesight, it is important to visit an optometrist if any of the above symptoms occur. If treated quickly, the retina can be reattached surgically, which will prevent any further vision loss. However, some people still experience reduced peripheral or central vision even after a successful surgery.