If flashes of light
or floaters occur suddenly or in great numbers, or if you are not sure what to
do, do not wait for vision loss to occur before you call
your doctor. If you cannot reach your doctor, go to the emergency room. Although these symptoms do not cause pain and may seem
harmless, getting an eye exam and quick treatment can send you home relieved
or, if there is a problem, can save your vision.
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Taking a wait-and-see approach, called watchful
waiting, is not an option if you have new or sudden flashes or floaters,
darkness over part of your visual field, or a new loss of vision that does not
go away. Sudden, rapid vision loss is a medical emergency.
Who to see
If you have symptoms that suggest that you might have
or are at immediate risk for a retinal detachment, call your doctor immediately. If you do not have an eye doctor (ophthalmologist), call your regular doctor. Based on
your symptoms, risk factors, and medical history, your doctor may refer you to
an eye doctor for an immediate exam and possible treatment.
Treatment for retinal tears and detachments is often done by an eye doctor who
specializes in retinal detachments.