Back to Top Skip to main content

Gone in a flash: ‘Floaters’ in field of vision can warn of vision issue

Seeing flashes of light or floating debris-like shapes appear in your field of vision should be reason to visit a provider, experts say. These symptoms can indicate retinal issues, which may lead to retinal detachment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston) Seeing flashes of light or floating debris-like shapes appear in your field of vision should be reason to visit a provider, experts say. These symptoms can indicate retinal issues, which may lead to retinal detachment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

Recommended Content:

Technology | Vision Loss

At first, flashes of light or floating debris-like shapes appear in a person’s field of vision. If the condition progresses, a curtain of darkness can be seen as the field of vision narrows. In Jane Acton’s case, it was a sudden flash of light that limited the field of vision in her right eye.

“I just remember thinking, ‘That’s not good,’ but it was 1 or 2 in the morning, so there was nothing I could do about it then,” said Acton, who had been experiencing flashes of light and ‘floaters’ for years. She was on a work trip in Reno when a spider web-like flash occurred as she rolled over in bed. “When I woke up, I could tell my vision was different.”

As the morning progressed, Acton could see her field of vision narrowing into a curtain-like effect. She quickly sought out a retinal specialist who confirmed the diagnosis: retinal detachment. She was offered the option of undergoing surgery in Reno, which would require her to remain there for recovery.

After discussing risks with her provider, Acton chose to undergo the procedure closer to home. She flew back to the East Coast and sought care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where her doctor awaited her arrival.

The National Eye Institute describes the retina as a light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it’s lifted or pulled out of position.

“The most important aspect of retinal detachment is early detection and prevention,” said Dr. David Eliason, an ophthalmologist and deputy director for the Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence located at Walter Reed.

A common cause for retinal detachment is a hole or small tear in the retina, which allows fluid to pass through and collect behind the retina until it separates from the wall of the eye, Eliason said. If a retinal tear is diagnosed before it becomes a detachment, it can be treated with a simple, low-risk laser procedure.

Nearsightedness, age, family history of retinal issues, and patient history of eye surgery or trauma can increase risk for retinal detachment. Lattice degeneration, a condition of the retina in which portions are particularly weak and prone to tearing, is also a risk factor. In Acton’s case, the detachment was a result of higher than average nearsightedness, caused when the eyeball is slightly longer than average or the cornea is too curved. As the retina is stretched over a larger area, it has a greater chance of tearing, Eliason explained.

Symptoms of retinal detachment include seeing light flashes as well as floaters, which are pieces of tissue that have been torn off the eye wall and float in the clear and thick fluid that fills the eye. According to the NEI, floaters are small, dark shapes that can look like spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines, and move as the eyes move. They don’t follow eye movements exactly, usually drifting when eyes stop moving and seeming to dart away when attempts are made to look at them directly.

When Acton began having these symptoms about 10 years ago, before the diagnosis of detached retina, she sought medical help and continued to be monitored for tears or detachment over time. On a few occasions, she underwent laser treatment to prevent retinal tears.

“Because I’ve been myopic my whole life, I’ve stayed on top of my eye health and I’ve educated myself about vision issues,” said Acton, who started wearing glasses at age 6.

Retinal tears and detachment can only be diagnosed through a dilated eye exam. Depending on the severity of the case, treatment can range from laser treatment to surgery, sometimes requiring more than one procedure, said Eliason.

“The sooner a person seeks medical attention for symptoms, the better the outcomes can be for that patient’s vision,” he urged. “The smaller the detachment and the earlier the intervention, the less likely that the patient will require multiple surgeries.”

Once the retina has detached, surgery is necessary to reattach it, but a successful surgery does not guarantee that a patient will regain full vision, said Eliason. If the center of the retina, which is used for 95 percent of vision, becomes detached, permanent loss of function in that eye is likely, he said.

“When the retina has just begun to detach, a difference of hours in delay for treatment can have lifelong consequences,” he said.

In preparation her surgery, Acton had a gas bubble inserted in her eye to hold the retina in place until the detachment-repair surgery could be performed. As part of her surgery, a larger bubble was inserted to help keep the retina in place during the healing process. Movement was restricted, which meant spending two weeks lying on her side for 23 hours a day.

“My vision is back, not 100 percent yet, but my prescription hasn’t settled yet,” said Acton. Now six months post-surgery, she described recovery as successful. After taking the time she needed to heal, she is free to do what she wants again.

“Retinal detachment is not something a lot of people know about, but they may be at risk and there’s a lot at stake,” said Acton, stressing the importance of being aware of the signs and getting an eye exam. “If you see sudden flashes, a lot of sudden floaters, or a curtaining effect in your field of vision, get to your eye doctor ASAP. You can’t let it go, or you’re putting your long-term vision at risk.”

You also may be interested in...

DHA IPM 18-015: Cybersecurity Program Management

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the requirements of References (d) through (y): • Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures to implement and maintain a DHA Cybersecurity Program for the Military Health System (MHS) to protect and defend DHA information and Information Technology (IT). • Is effective immediately; it will be converted into DHA-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), “Cybersecurity Program Management.” This DHA-IPM will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue.

  • Identification #: 18-015
  • Date: 9/23/2019
  • Type: DHA Interim Procedures Memorandum
  • Topics: Technology

DHA IPM 18-011: Video Network Center (VNC) Endpoint Standards

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the guidance of References (d) through (g): - Provides guidance for video network endpoint standards required for sites to connect to the Defense Health Agency (DHA) VNC network. These standards will help ensure security compliance, efficiency, and best practices are maintained across the DHA network. Meeting certification requirements brings many benefits, including: increased assurances of a successful video teleconference (VTC) experience, full access to bridge and point-to-point calls, and access to peer video networks, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, academia, and industry partners. Compliance with stated standards does not preclude users connecting to other DoD approved networks. - This DHA-IPM is effective immediately; it will be converted into a DHA-Procedural Instruction. This DHA-IPM will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue.

  • Identification #: 18-011
  • Date: 9/20/2019
  • Type: DHA Interim Procedures Memorandum
  • Topics: Technology

DHA IPM 18-013: Risk Management Framework (RMF)

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the guidance of References (d) through (ac): • Incorporates cybersecurity strategy, policy, awareness/training, assessment, continuous monitoring, authorization, implementation, and remediation. • Aligns with the Deputy Assistant Director, Information Operations (DAD IO) J-6/Chief Information Officer’s (CIO) key concept of increasing cybersecurity of Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) Information Technology (IT); therefore, robust risk assessment and management is required. • Encompasses lifecycle risk management to determine and manage the residual cybersecurity risk. • This DHA-IPM is effective immediately; it will be converted into a DHA-Procedural Instruction. This DHA-IPM will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue.

  • Identification #: 18-013
  • Date: 9/20/2019
  • Type: DHA Interim Procedures Memorandum
  • Topics: Technology

DHA IPM 18-007: Service Delivery Management Program

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (e): - Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for implementing and managing high quality information technology (IT) services by the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Deputy Assistant Director Information Operations (DAD IO/J-6), Military Health System (MHS). The DHA Service Delivery Management program provides customers requesting IT services from the DAD IO/J-6 or Defense Information Systems Agency service catalogs with an on-demand, automated system that provides a single-entry point to submit service requests. The automated system enables DAD IO/J-6 to align business needs and use repeatable and scalable processes to holistically track, manage, and report on customer submitted requests for IT services from submission to fulfillment. - Is binding on DoD Components and supports the Director’s, DHA, responsibility to develop appropriate management models to maximize efficiencies in the activities carried out by the DHA. - This DHA-IPM is effective immediately; it will be converted into a DHA-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI). This DHA-IPM will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue.

  • Identification #: 18-007
  • Date: 8/7/2019
  • Type: DHA Interim Procedures Memorandum
  • Topics: Technology

DHA PI 3201.05: Technology Transfer (T2) Program

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI) based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (t), establishes responsibilities, procedures, and guidance for the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) T2 program.

  • Identification #: 3201.05
  • Date: 6/20/2019
  • Type: DHA Procedural Instruction
  • Topics: Technology

DHA IPM 18-018: Physical Custody and Control of the DoD Health Record

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (p): • Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for the physical custody and control of DoD Health Records at all DoD Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and the management, monitoring, review, and evaluation of DoD Health Record availability at MTFs. • This DHA-IPM is effective immediately and will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue. It must be incorporated into the forthcoming DHA-Procedural Instruction, “Health Records Management”.

DHA IPM 18-017: Military Health System (MHS) Information Technology (IT) Investment Management Framework

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the guidance of References (d) through (v), establishes Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures to: • Establish the overarching guidance to implement policies and procedures for managing DHA Deputy Assistant Director, Information Operations (DAD IO)/J-6 Defense Health Program (DHP) IT resources. The DHA Investment Management Framework is used as an enabler for MHS leadership to make informed transparent financial decisions associated with the DHA DAD IO/J-6 systems, services, and capabilities and will continue to be used in the foreseeable future. • Provide full and total awareness of all IT across the enterprise ensuring all MHS healthcare-related IT investments are accounted for and integrated both operationally and financially. This includes all IT systems, applications, and devices and all their funding identified to manage a coherent and integrated healthcare capability across the enterprise. • Provide and supersede guidance and instructions previously provided through the Services. As Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) transition to DHA management and responsibility, procedures in this DHA-IPM will supersede IT systems guidance and instructions previously provided through the Services; including IT systems in all MTFs, clinics, and enterprise services provided to Other Lines-of-Business (OLB), such as training and research, etc. In addition, it supports a coherent and comprehensive catalog of IT capability investments encompassing all IT used to support the MHS mission. • Require that all funding sources, type and Budget Activity Group (BAG), purchasing or supporting any IT must be identified for inclusion in the DHA portfolio of IT capability investments. • Provide superseding guidance and instruction, through this DHA-IPM until a DHA-Procedural Instruction is issued previously provided by the Services in References (w) through (ad), for the MTFs as they are transitioned to DHA management and responsibility. • This DHA-IPM is effective immediately and it will be converted into a DHA-Procedural Instruction. This DHA-IPM will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue.

  • Identification #: 18-017
  • Date: 11/6/2018
  • Type: DHA Interim Procedures Memorandum
  • Topics: Technology

DHA IPM 18-016: DHA IPM 18 016 Medical Coding of the DoD Health Records

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (s): • Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for centralized oversight, standardized operations, and ensured quality and performance for the coding of DoD Health Records. • This DHA-IPM is effective immediately; it will be converted into a DHA-Procedural Instruction. This DHA-IPM will expire 12 months from the date of issue.

DHA PI 8140.01: Acceptable Use of Defense Health Agency Information Technology (IT) (Updated)

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (m), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for acceptable use of DHA IT by authorized and privileged users.

  • Identification #: DHA PI 8140.01
  • Date: 10/16/2018
  • Type: DHA Procedural Instruction
  • Topics: Technology

Waiver of Restrictive Licensure and Privileging Procedures to Facilitate the Expansion of Telemedicine Services in the Military Health System 12-010

Policy

In order to facilitate the expansion of telemedicine services in the Military Health System, this memorandum waives selective provisions of Department of Defense 602S.13-R, "Clinical Quality Assurance in the Military Health System," June 11 , 2004. This waiver is conditioned on the specific provisions of this memorandum, and shall remain in effect, unless modified or revoked, until the cancellation and reissuance of DoD 602S.13-R, or the issuance of a Department of Defense Instruction for or including telemedicine.

MHS Enterprise Architecture Signed Memo and Guide 20120730

Policy

Announcement of the release of the Military Health System (MHS) Enterprise Architecture (EA) Guide. The guide supports the MHS CIO’s responsibilities for development and maintenance of EA, which complies with the Department of Defense’s responsibilities under the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, Public Law 104-106.

  • Identification #: 00-memo-2012-07-30
  • Date: 7/30/2012
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Technology

Guidance on the Establishment of a Human Cell, Tissue, and Cellular and Tissue Based Products Program

Policy

This memorandum requests the Services resource a Human Cell, Tissue, and Cellular and Tissue Based Products (HCT/Ps) Program that complies with regulatory standards for management and oversight of HCT/Ps, according to the best fit for their Service.

Standard Enterprise Architecture Requirements for Acquiring Information Management/Information Technology Products and Services

Policy

The Military Health System (MHS) Information Management/Information Technology (IM/IT) Strategic Plan established enterprise-wide interoperability and common architecture goals for MHS 1M/IT products and services that promote agility and interoperability within MHS and externally with Federal and industry partners.

  • Identification #: 00-memo-2012-06-19
  • Date: 6/19/2012
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Technology

MHS Cloud First Adoption Directive and Policy Guidance Signed Memo and Attachment

Policy

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 mandates that the Department of Defense (DoD) and its agencies develop a strategy to migrate to using Cloud computing services. Against this backdrop, DoD released an IT Enterprise Strategy and Roadmap plan in September 2011 developed by the DoD CIO, Teri Takai. This memorandum is consistent with Federal and DoD strategies, directives, and plans as they relate to implementation of a Military Health System (MHS) Cloud First policy aligning with the MHS mission

  • Identification #: 00-memo-2012-05-22
  • Date: 5/22/2012
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Technology
<< < 1 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 14 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.