Meaning: a phenomenon characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye.
Etymology: Greek words phos (light) and phainein (to show)
Usage in a sentence: “She squeezed her eyes shut, and enjoyed the show of phosphenes.”
Do this exercise right now. Don’t worry, it won’t hamper your blog-hopping abilities.
Shut your eyes. Press your fingers over your eyelids or rub your closed eyes.
Do you see any of the following patterns when you do this exercise?
What you’ve just done is the same thing that the ancient Greeks did and knew about. This colour filled image is called a phosphene. The creation of a phosphene has no magical explanation. It has been studied by Isaac Newton too! Here’s the theory (from Wikipedia):
The pressure mechanically stimulates the cells of the retina. Experiences include a darkening of the visual field that moves against the rubbing, a diffuse colored patch that also moves against the rubbing, a scintillating and ever-changing and deforming light grid with occasional dark spots (like a crumpling fly-spotted flyscreen), and a sparse field of intense blue points of light. Pressure phosphenes can persist briefly after the rubbing stops and the eyes are opened, allowing the phosphenes to be seen on the visual scene.
It truly is a weird phenomenon, isn’t it? Apart from pressure simulation, phosphenes are caused due to electric simulation of the brain, by changing magnetic fields and hallucinogenic drugs. It is also caused by diseases of the retina and multiple sclerosis. Don’t try rubbing your eyes too often, or you’ll end up with a splitting headache (the headache I’m bearing right now for rubbing my eyes too much, trying to figure out if the designs change everytime :P)
Describe your phosphene in the comments section. Share this post if this is the first time you’ve experienced this phenomenon 🙂