There are many peculiar ailments and disorders which can affect the nervous system and the optic stem which can result in photopsia. Photopsia is a unique symptom which results in the patient claiming they are seeing flashes of light or a sudden brightness out of the corner of their eye. Photopsia itself is not a disorder but is usually a symptom of an underlying disorder or disease, typically ones that effect the nervous system or are related to brain phenomena. It is not uncommon for people who suffer from migraines and severe headaches to report seeing a closely related symptom to photopsia known as migraine aura in which patients report seeing “waves of light” or a rippling effect in the form of a flash of light. The migraine aura symptom, while very similar and related to photopsia, is a telltale symptom of an impending seizure for patients suffering from epilepsy.

Photopsia has been shown to be a direct symptom of numerous eye disorders such as posterior vitreous detachment and retinal breaks. Optometrists and ophthalmologists have determined that indications of photopsia are listed among official retinal detachment symptoms. Patients suffering from retinal detachment also report other peculiar visual effects along with photopsia such as seeing many more ‘floaters’ in their vision as well as seeing rings of ‘floaters’ directly where they look (rather than in there peripheral vision where they normally reside). On top of being a prime symptom for these eye disorders, photopsia can also act as a sign of eye cancer, specifically ocular melanoma. Although ocular melanoma is very rare it can be life threatening as it can spread to other vital systems throughout the body. All patient indications of the symptom of photopsia should be taken extremely seriously as many of the disorders and diseases it points to can have life changing effects if not treated properly.

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