Doctor, There Are Phosphenes In My Eyes!

by Sherry Riter in Fun Facts

As I watched the neighbor walk her dog today, I remembered that last year I shared an experience with you about my aglet. One thing led to the next while I sat staring out the window and before I knew it, this post was born.

I think we have all experienced this…

phosphenes images when rubbing eyes

When you put pressure on your eyes by doing something like rubbing them, sneeze, hold your nose to prevent a sneeze, cough really hard, blow your nose, faint or get hit on the head, you can see those sparkly thingies. Sometimes people say that you are seeing stars. Medical science has a name for everything and “sparkly thingies” isn’t the name. Those flashes of light you see are called phosphenes. The “proper” definition is, “A sensation of light caused by excitation of the retina by mechanical or electrical means rather than by light.”

So you aren’t going crazy or imagining those things in your eyes. It’s just phosphenes.

Have you rubbed your eyes yet so that you could see them?

Uh huh. Sure you haven’t. I believe you.

I’m a professional at unintentionally creating phosphenes because I faint at the sight of my own blood. I can watch movies like Rambo and Die Hard with blood all over the place, but watch me pass clean out if I cut my finger. The phosphenes will appear and I will instantly drop as low to the floor as possible before I pass out. I should have been born in the era when fainting couches were popular.

Alright. I’ll shut up now so you can rub your eyes and look at your phosphenes.

Wait! Before you start creating the phosphenes, pay attention to the color they appear to be and share it with us. Some people only see white and some see colors. I almost exclusively see white, blurry phosphenes, but there are occasional red and blue ones scattered about too.

Of course I rubbed my eyes before I typed this post. It has been awhile since I fainted and I wanted to make sure I remembered my phosphenes correctly.

Okay, now you can go rub your eyes.



This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Skip_D September 17, 2012 at 2:38 am

Well, of course the first thing I had to do is take off my glasses… & then comes the question: can I see my phosphenes if I’m not wearing my glasses??? 😛

Yeah, I saw them… very bright, sharp, pin-pricks of brilliant white, like from a sparkler. Sometimes I see colors, but not tonight.

OK, can I put my glasses back on now? ^_^


2 Sherry Riter September 17, 2012 at 7:20 am

Yep, you can put your glasses back on again. LOL

Like a sparkler? Hmmmm…Mine are more floating soft sparkles of light which almost look like the picture I drew.

Have a great day!


3 John Raubenheimer September 17, 2012 at 7:51 am

Silvery, purple, pink, blue, reddish-brown…


4 Sherry Riter September 18, 2012 at 1:27 am

LOL Sounds a little like a disco ball! LOL


5 Joan September 17, 2012 at 9:23 am

Okay, I just had to try this experiment to see if it really worked. My eyes didn’t feel scratchy but I rubbed them anyways. I didn’t see “sparkly thingies” or those flashes of light you called phosphenes. What I saw was George Clooney standing before me!

I think I might have done the experiment wrong, but who cares? Just to have George Clooney standing in my bedroom was good enough for me! I didn’t dare rub my eyes again for fear that it might all be a mirage and George Clooney would disappear! 🙂


6 Joan September 17, 2012 at 9:32 am

PS Your artwork was awesome! Not quite Michelangelo but with a little practice who knows! 🙂


7 Sherry Riter September 18, 2012 at 1:28 am

Are you sure it isn’t as good as his art work?


8 Sherry Riter September 18, 2012 at 1:28 am



9 Joan September 17, 2012 at 9:39 am

PSS And I like your sidebar too! Especially the picture of the white moon’s reflection in the black water. 🙂


10 Sherry Riter September 18, 2012 at 1:29 am

Me too. It is one of my favorites. I love the moon. I think it is very romantic and peaceful.


11 Joan September 17, 2012 at 9:45 am

PSSS And, yeah, you’re tempting me with all that food in the sidebar, but to be perfectly truthful, at 6:45 A.M. that’s a lot of food to contemplate eating! 😉


12 Sherry Riter September 18, 2012 at 1:30 am

I can’t do a lot of things, but I can cook. LOL I’m so glad I like my own cooking.


13 Joan September 17, 2012 at 9:53 am

PSSSS Well, as long as I’m up I might as well start my day. I mean, I have other things to do with my life besides just commenting on your blog!

What I have to do today I really don’t know. So, maybe I’ll just keep procrastinating by making comments on your blog! 🙂


14 Sherry Riter September 18, 2012 at 1:30 am

I thought you would spend the whole day going from the first post and reading forward. LOL


15 Joan September 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

PSSSSS I just remembered what I have to do today! I’m sending my screenplay out to one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood. I’d give you a hint, but I’m not a name dropper, so I’ll just keep you guessing!

Oh, I guess I can give you one hint. Here it is: She is over forty and under eighty. Is that enough of a hint? 🙂


16 Sherry Riter September 18, 2012 at 1:31 am


Ummm…that was a terrible clue. (rolling eyes)


17 Gin September 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I WOULD rub my eyes but I’m afraid of where my contacts will end up.
And OMG!! I think I’m getting fat just LOOKING at your food porn!!


18 Sherry Riter September 18, 2012 at 1:32 am

LOL LOL LOL I highly suggest you don’t rub your eyes with the contacts!!!! LOL LOL That really cracked me up!

Food? You see food somewhere on my blog? Where? I don’t see any. LOL 😉


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