This may occur with age when changes in the vitreous — shrinkage and liquefication — cause it to sag or separate from the retina. A strong enough pull may tear the retina and even lead to the retina peeling away from the back of the eye. Although painless, the signs of a detachment of the retina include the sudden appearance of flashes of light followed by what appears to be spots, specks, hairs or strings (floaters).
If you experience these visual changes, it is vitally important to see an eye doctor immediately. Without emergency treatment, tearing or detachment of the retina may result in partial or possibly total vision loss. Treatment for retinal tears or detachment may include the use of lasers, or prompt surgery in an operating room.