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The Bright Spot In My Eyes

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As I sat in my chair during opera practice, there came a break where the conductor started working on the women’s parts. I happened to look up at the ceiling and saw a bright light. Similar to my experiences in The Circle Of Lights and Brightness And The Circle of Lights, I saw a nice big circle of lights where the one light is supposed to be.

I had some success in the past few weeks where I stared at a light for about 20 minutes to an hour and the circle of lights decreased in radius momentarily. This usually lasts for about 5-10 seconds, and it’ll go back to its normal radius. That indicates to me that somehow, my lenses were focused more correctly for that few seconds. I’ve tried to reproduce it, but have not been able to do so consistently. From what I can tell, it comes with the feeling of staring at that one object and seeing only that, with everything else kind of blurred. It also seems similar to the feeling of focusing my eyes to a very close object, so I think that I’m probably on the right track.

So here I was, staring up at this light, trying to see if I can focus my eyes. After a few minutes of nothing happening, it was the men’s turn to sing again, so I looked back at my music. However, I saw a big bright spot in the middle of the page! Then I remembered that this is not the first time it has happened. I remember looking directly at the sun back in kindergarten, and then finding it kind of interesting that I see a big bright spot everywhere I looked. Well, some things don’t change it seems since I’m writing this post :-)

The first thing that came to mind was that as I blinked, the bright spot stayed in the same spot. I briefly wondered if it had something do with the photoreceptors on my retina. Maybe they’re overexcited or something from all those extra photons and takes a while to dissipate. The bright spots are getting darker, so that was good – it means I’m not permanently scarred or something.

Then, I tried something I haven’t tried before. I shut my eyes and see if I was able to still see the bright spots. This seems simple, but I’m actually not completely sure. I think the bright spots were still there, but can’t be sure whether that was because I was imagining it or actually seeing it.

That brings up another interesting point. Is it easier to think that you’re imagining things in the dark? If you see a cow in broad daylight, there’s pretty much no way you’d think that you’re imagining seeing something. However, put that same cow at night, and you could potentially say, “Hmmm, did I just imagine that?” Maybe it’s because there’s just less light at night, so the image is dimmer on your retina. The brighter the image, the stronger the memory maybe? That wouldn’t explain why I had trouble figuring out whether I was imagining the spots of light though.

Then again, maybe it’s just because we sleep more at night and it’s not clear whether it was a dream or not. I guess it’s more “Was I dreaming of seeing a cow?” than “I think I saw a cow but maybe I didn’t actually see it”. Although, I’m not completely sure those are different.

Anyway, the bright spot of light eventually disappeared. I can definitely see how looking at the sun can lead to blindness now. Maybe the photoreceptors get overly excited or something.

I was going to end this article here, but that last sentence just made me wonder why human beings evolved with eyes that can’t handle more photons. Hmmm, we do seem to have a mechanism for stopping that, which is closing our eyelids. In order for our eyes to have evolved like this though, there must be some advantage to seeing only within the most common light intensity ranges. Perhaps allowing the eyes to see under higher or lower light intensities is not a particularly useful feature to have, since it doesn’t happen all that often.

There were probably other adaptations that were more important like sleep. That’s a completely separate mystery in itself though.

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