Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sensory Word of the Week

According to a phosphene is "a luminous impression produced through excitation of the retina by some cause other than the impingement upon it of rays of light, as by pressure upon the eyeball when the lids are close." In simpler terms, defines phosphenes as "the light and colours produced by rubbing your eyes." It's the experience of seeing light even though your eyes are closed and no light is coming in. You might see squiggly lines, orbs, or other patterns in all different colors. The word comes from the Greek roots phōs, meaning "light," and phainein, meaning "to show" (

According to, all kinds of everyday action will bring on the phosphenes such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, blowing your nose, or standing up suddenly. However, the light show also appears on a less intense level when we simply close our eyes. Some research shared on shows that this light might be produced inside our eyes—cells in our eyes produce light particles, in a way that's similar to fireflies or some species of deep-sea anemones and jellyfish. The natural functioning of the human body never ceases to amaze me!

A note about the photo: Since it's not possible to capture phosphenes with a camera, I used a photo I shot of sunrise over the clouds from the top of Mount Haleakala in Maui. With that kind of direct sunlight, the camera produced beautiful orbs that seemed to perfectly illustrate this shut-eye phenomenon.

Each week the blog will feature a Sensory Word of the Week, a word that appeals to the senses or somehow describes sensory experiences. If you have a suggestion for a word that would be interesting to share, please let me know.

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