Word of the day: phosphene

You know when you rub your eyes and see blue/purple lights and flashes and sparkles and star sprinkles?
Well… they are called phosphenes.

It’s a beautiful word, no?

Sometimes you might see them after you sneeze (into your elbow of course). Or when you stand up too quickly after a long period of sitting. Or just before you pass out.

Phosphenes are caused by stimulation of various parts of the visual system by either mechanical pressure (ie rubbing your eyes), lack of oxygen/glucose (standing too quickly) or in rare cases, disease (such as multiple sclerosis).

So the next time you take a big sneeze, instead of saying: Wow, I just saw stars….you can say phosphenes.
Number of friends impressed = a multitude.

You are welcome.

Ian Miller

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