Eye Symptoms


Retinal diseases can present in multiple ways. Symptoms suggesting a retinal problem may include:

Flashes and floaters

“Flashes” refers to when a patient sees “flickering lights” or “lightning bolt”. “Floaters” refers to the sensation of a spot or spots in the vision that move around, especially with eye movement. “Flashes” and “floaters” may be a symptom of retinal tears or detachments, and if new, require urgent examination by an ophthalmologist.

Blurred vision

Blurring of vision can be caused by many eye diseases, including those affecting the retina, macula, vitreous and lens.

Distorted vision

Distorted vision refers to the image of straight lines being wavy. A quick way to check is to cover one eye and see if the edge of a doorway looks straight. Distorted vision often suggests a macular disease.

Patients with macular disease can monitor their vision with an Amsler grid. Download and print one here.

Blind spots (scotomas)

A scotoma refers to an area of the vision that is dark or missing. Unlike “floaters”, they do not move within the field of vision. This can be caused by a retinal detachment, macula hole, glaucoma or stroke.

Difficulty reading

Difficulty reading may just suggest that reading glasses need updating. However, they also often suggest a problem with the macula.

Eye pain

Most retinal diseases do not cause eye pain. However, inflammation in the eye, high eye pressure or changes to the surface of the eye can cause pain.