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What causes bright flashes of light in vision?

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Posted on Mon, 21 Jul 2014
Question: Hi there,

I have a question about an eye phenomenon I sometimes experience.

This usually occurs after a shower. I generally shave under my arms, and have to turn my head/neck as well as my eyes to make sure I got it all.

Sometimes when I do this, after I turn my head, neck, and eyes back, I experience a strange phenomenon.

I see small, squiggly, moving "things" for a few seconds. They aren't floaters - I have those and know what they look like. They aren't flashers either, as I once experienced those as well (it was also when shaving like this, and I feared a retinal detachment, but I got an eye exam the next day and all was fine).

If I were to describe them, and apologies for the strange description, the look like what sperm look like under a microscope (small with a squiggly tail), but bright, almost glowing. They're quite small, and as I said, don't last long.

My only theory is maybe I'm pulling on the retina a bit when my eyes are that far to the side? This is the only time it seems to happen. You'd think it would happen when I turn my head to check to my rear when driving, but I don't recall ever noticing it then. This also doesn't happen every time - only sometimes.

Any idea what's happening? Is it dangerous? I've thought about trying to modify how I shave, but it's difficult to make sure I got all the hair other ways.

Thanks much!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Dadapeer K (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
This is normal no need to worry.

Detailed Answer:
Hello
Welcome to Health care magic

I am Dr. DADAPEER K, an Ophthalmologist and I answer health problems related to eye.

It seems from the history that you experience a strange sense of seeing small, bright, flashes of light after taking shower or after taking shower.
This phenomenon may not be related to flashes of light or floaters as you are saying.
This is usually not related to the head movements, but this can occur following use of hot or cold water and applying to face or head. Hot water usually causes dilatation of the blood vessels and cold water causes constriction of the blood vessels, this sudden change in the blood vessels can cause these symptoms for a moment and which after autoregulation will become normal.
This is seen sometimes in normal individuals and no need to worry about this.

This explanation get substantiated by the fact that this won't occur while driving.

Hence no need to worry this is not related to retinal traction or retinal detachment.

Hence no need to worry about this.

Hope the information is helpful to you.

Thank you
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Dadapeer K (1 hour later)
Thanks much! Very glad to hear this is normal?

I understand this could be due to dilation of blood vessels - I'm curious what I'm actually "seeing" when this happens?

Is it possible it's a combination of the head/eye movement PLUS just having a hot shower? I've never noticed it on days I don't shave...it only seems to happen after a shower AND when I move a certain way...

Thanks again! =)
doctor
Answered by Dr. Dadapeer K (3 hours later)
Brief Answer:
The head movements are not responsible.

Detailed Answer:
Hello
Thank you for the follow up question.

The exact mechanism of the phenomenon is not understood. The proposed mechanism what I have understood I have explained below.
The vasodilatation caused by the blood vessels will lead to altered biochmeical pathways which will lead to increased firing of the nerve cells resulting in bright glowing like sensation. Once the autoregulation of the blood vessels makes the vessels normal these symptoms disappear.

The head movements are usually not responsible for this.

Hope I have answered your question and the information is helpful to you.

Thank you
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Dadapeer K (8 hours later)
Thanks so much for the interesting information. I'll try not to worry about this then and chalk it up to vasodilation from the shower and not a particular movement or extreme eye position.

Thanks again for your help!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Dadapeer K (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Thank you

Detailed Answer:
Hello
Thank you for writing to Health care magic.

With regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Dadapeer K (5 hours later)
One last followup partially unrelated to this question before I close the ticket.

Does it put any extra stress on the back of the retina when one looks all the way left/right (I don't mean turning the head, but moving the eye all the way as far as it will go left or right in the socket)?

I also have floaters, and am wondering if there's any way to prevent more from occurring, or if it's just a normal aging phenomenon. (I've largely gotten used to them, but I still notice them occasionally).

Thanks!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Dadapeer K (13 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
No stress is put on the retina on eye movements.

Detailed Answer:
Hello
Thank you for the follow up.

No extra stress is put on the retina on eye movements in various directions, hence no need to worry regarding this.

Floaters are because of vitreous degenerations and they won't cause any problem.
You need to consult your eye doctor if the floaters increase in number or associated with sudden onset of flashes of light. Otherwise you need not worry regarding them.

Hope the information is helpful to you.

Thank you
With regards
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
Answered by
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Dr. Dadapeer K

Ophthalmologist

Practicing since :2003

Answered : 5709 Questions

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What causes bright flashes of light in vision?

Brief Answer: This is normal no need to worry. Detailed Answer: Hello Welcome to Health care magic I am Dr. DADAPEER K, an Ophthalmologist and I answer health problems related to eye. It seems from the history that you experience a strange sense of seeing small, bright, flashes of light after taking shower or after taking shower. This phenomenon may not be related to flashes of light or floaters as you are saying. This is usually not related to the head movements, but this can occur following use of hot or cold water and applying to face or head. Hot water usually causes dilatation of the blood vessels and cold water causes constriction of the blood vessels, this sudden change in the blood vessels can cause these symptoms for a moment and which after autoregulation will become normal. This is seen sometimes in normal individuals and no need to worry about this. This explanation get substantiated by the fact that this won't occur while driving. Hence no need to worry this is not related to retinal traction or retinal detachment. Hence no need to worry about this. Hope the information is helpful to you. Thank you