Monday, May 2, 2022

Seeing With Your Eyes Closed

 Annamaria on Monday

After I got my second covid shot, I felt a number of changes in my body, the strangest of which was that, quite frequently now, when I close my eyes, I see falling snow.  The image is very like the gif above.  This is a whole new experience for me. And, so far, it has not gone away.

Ordinarily, almost all the time, when I close my eyes, I see a soothing purple light.  It looks a lot like the image above, but it moves gently.  I always see this when I close my eyes to mediate or to relax into acupuncture treatment.  

When I was a young child, around three or four, I saw moving machines, gears and flywheels.  Only a few times did they reappear in my adult life and not for many decades now.  But, I have always wondered why we see things when we close out eyes. 

Here is what I have learned.  The phenomenon is called phosphenes, and scientists believe they are caused by the fact that the retina has no "off" switch.  It continues to send signals to the brain, even in the absence of light. Some people see wispy clouds, or color flashes, or geometric shapes.  Some people see what doctors think might be white blood cells in capillaries inside their eyes.  Imagine that!

Certain mental conditions and drug use can cause people to have hallucinations, even with their eyes open. These can result in insomnia and anxiety.  But typically. the patterns and shapes one sees are just what one ophthalmologist called "visual noise."

I write this on the first of May.  Regardless of what I might see when I close my eyes, here are some images I have enjoyed today with my eyes wide open.  NYC in spring looks like this:

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