Why is it that after you look at a bright light, you see a spot for a while after looking away from the light?

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Why is it that after you look at a bright light, you see a spot for a while after looking away from the light?

In: Biology
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The spots you see are becaused of something called “photo-bleaching” that happens to the retina (the light sensitive piece at the back of your eye). It has special *photoreceptor cells* that contain materials called *pigments* that absorb different colors of light.

When you look at a really bright light—like staring at the sun or the middle of a light bulb—the pigments are overloaded by more light than they can handle. They get used up all at once and it takes your cells a little while to make more. During that time, you see those black and white spots because the cells have no pigment to help you see colors.

They’re called phosphenes and researchers believe you are actually seeing light that is originating from your eye itself. Basically our eyes are capable of producing “biophotons” which is essentially the same thing fireflies use to light up. Most the time these are lost in the light of the regular day and your brain just processes them out, but when you close your eyes, it sometimes takes a while for you brain to process out the light signals as nothing more than “noise” from your own eyes, rather than something it is actually seeing in the real world.