Phosphene is the name given to the phenomenon of the perception of light entering the eye when it is being rubbed, and when the eyes are closed. The visual system is responsible for this perception of light when there really is no light, and mechanical, magnetic or electrical stimulation of the retina is often the specific cause. Phosphene can also be caused by a random discharge of an electrical impulse within the eye. Eye doctor services are recommended for anyone who frequently experiences the sensation of seeing strange lights when their eyes are closed and they are rubbing them.
How Does A Phosphene Occur?
The retina must be stimulated by light waves in order for you to be able to see light when there is no light actually present. Those light waves are then translated into an image by the brain, although the retina can still be stimulated by electrical, magnetic and physical factors. Physical stimulus is the leading cause of seeing strange lights that aren’t really there.
Cells in the retina are activated whenever you close your eyes and rub them, and a visual image is then perceived by the brain, causing bright colors and often patterns to be seen. We tend to see random patterns and colors instead of specific and clearly defined images, because no light waves are actually encountering the retina.
This phenomenon can also be experienced by anyone who has not experienced any visual stimulus for a long period of time, and for this reason it is sometimes known as the prisoner’s cinema. These strange colors and lights can be brought on by a blow to the head, a strong coughing fit, sneezing or laughing, or low blood pressure. These strange lights are also often confused with hallucinations, although hallucinations happen in the brain.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is the process in which nerve cells in the brain are stimulated by magnetic fields, and this process can also cause phosphenes. Different areas of the eye can be stimulated, depending on the location and intensity of the magnetic field. Because there is more radiation present in space, astronauts also sometimes experience these lights and patterns.
What Should I Do If I Experience Phosphenes?
Anyone experiencing these strange lights should consult eye doctor services, although in general the phenomenon is not a cause for concern and wont damage your eyes. However, contacting an eye doctor is important, as permanent blindness can often result from a detached retina, and the strange lights may indicate a detached retina.
If you are looking for an eye doctor for you or a loved one, we are committed to providing each patient with quality vision solutions. Our staff holds firmly to the value of offering excellent service, care and products through friendly, positive and professional teamwork.