Light Flashes And Eye Floaters After Cataract Surgery: What Do They Mean?

Eye cataract surgery is a routine procedure that has a low chance of postoperative complications. Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is when your vitreous body (part of your eye) pulls away from the retina at the back of the eye, creating some minor issues with your vision. Does cataract surgery make PVD more likely?

A Common Condition

The condition is actually fairly common in older adults. Some studies have found that upwards of 60% of adults aged 70 and older experience PVD in at least one eye. The commonality of the condition means it's accepted as a standard part of the aging process. However, younger patients who have undergone eye cataract surgery may experience the early onset of PVD, with the condition being aggravated by the surgery itself. As it's an accepted part of the aging process and is largely benign, does this mean that younger patients should simply learn to live with the condition?

Few Significant Symptoms

The condition rarely produces any significant symptoms, and any symptoms are unlikely to be disruptive or impact your quality of life. One of the more pronounced symptoms is photopsia, which are random flashes of light (without an apparent source) in your field of vision. This is similar to watching a movie where the director has utilized camera lens flares. Additionally, you may notice an increased concentration of eye floaters in your peripheral vision. Although these symptoms may not seem especially serious, you might not want to simply put up with them. 


The majority of patients will find that their PVD is self-correcting. Vision will normalize, and instances of photopsia and eye floaters will diminish. Essentially, your brain will learn to filter out these abnormalities from your vision, meaning you will stop registering them. However, no matter how minor PVD might be, patients who have recently undergone eye cataract surgery should immediately report signs of PVD to the surgeon who performed the procedure, or to their own physician.

Similar Symptoms

Signs of PVD must be reported as they're similar to a more serious condition involving tears in the retina, which may be associated with your recent surgery. Torn retinal tissue can lead to detachment of the retina, and can result in total loss of vision in the affected eye. A small procedure will be needed to seal the torn retinal tissues. 

Older adults may already have naturally experienced PVD, and may not notice any such symptoms following cataract surgery. Younger patients may experience early onset PVD after their cataract surgery. While it's nothing to be alarmed about, any symptoms associated with PVD should be reported so that retinal tearing can be ruled out. For more information, contact a facility like Sabates Eye Centers.