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What Are Those Images We See When We Close Our Eyes

June 25, 2015 Posted by Dr. Shah

You lay in bed and shut the lights out, the minute you close your eyes you notice images. They seem to be swirling lit up stars and colors that are producing a light show on the inside of your eyelids. But what is this image? Many people view this phenomenon as a light-induced afterimage of what one has seen before closing their eyes. The real reason for these images is phosphenes! Phosphenes are the moving visual sensations of stars and patterns we see when we close our eyes. These are thought to be caused by electrical charges the retina produces in its resting state. Phosphenes can also be caused by mechanical stimulation of the retina through applied pressure or tension. The pressure on the retina stimulates it and generates phosphenes and light. This can be tested by closing your eyes and gently pressing on them.

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