Sanjay Sharma A new study claims that suddenly seeing floaters or flashes of light may signify a grave eye problem and if untreated could even result in blindness. Study authors from Queen’s University and Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston have supposedly found that one in seven patients with this symptom could have a retinal tear or detachment.

As retinal tears could be very hard to see, superior equipment and a methodical tangential retinal assessment are apparently necessary to identify them.

“If we detect a tear and laser it, we can save people from potentially going blind. But if fluid gets in under the retina and causes it to detach, it may be too late,” commented, senior author of the study Dr. Sanjay Sharma, a professor of Ophthalmology and Epidemiology at Queen’s and head of the Unit for Cost-Effective Ocular Health Policy at HDH.

To conduct their study, the team supposedly examined almost 200 articles published in the peer-reviewed literature. They then apparently carried out a meta-analysis of around 17 articles, and observed that a retinal tear apparently took place in about 14 per cent of the cases of new beginning floaters linked with an age-related change in the eye’s jelly.

Dr. Sharma remarked, “If new floaters are associated with visual loss, a defect in the visual field, or the presence of blood or ‘tobacco dust’ in the eye jelly, the risk of retinal tear is significantly higher.”

He further added that since retinal tear can lead to detachment in up to 50 per cent of cases, new floaters and flashes is a medical condition that needs urgent assessment.

This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.