Tired Visions: A possible explanation for some apparitions.

posted 1999-Dec-12
— updated 1999-Dec-13
When I get tired, my eyes tend to blink less. I find myself staring at nothing in particular, thinking.

When this happens, when my eyes are focused on one item in particular, that image starts getting 'burned' into my vision.

[Physiologically, I believe what is happening is that the chemicals needed to keep the cones in your retinas properly firing, to produce the right image, start getting in short supply since the exact same image is being produced by each again and again, when the eyes are designed to normally flit about and give the chemicals a little bit of time to refresh.]

As the image gets burned in, if I don't blink and don't shift my vision, the room appears to get darker. [The chemicals are really in short supply, and the proper signal isn't getting fired off.] If you've never experienced this sometime, you should try it. I think it's neat.

Eyes have something they do (the term for which I forget) where even when you're trying to look exactly in one spot, they do minor shifts all around the place. Your brain is used to this, and compensates so that you don't see everything shaking, all the time.

However, the bizarre effect I find this has is that when my eyes are tired, and the room starts getting a little darker because the cones are tiring of showing you the same thing over and over...when this is happening, and my eyes do their little jiggle around, suddenly the edges of everything seem to GLOW! The cones responsible for that part of the image are getting to show something new, and they have the chemicals around to do so, and do so with a comparative vengeance!

My point of this whole musing--I wonder if at some point, someone was getting tired, and looking at someone (against a relatively edge-free background), suddenly saw them starting to glow with a halo around their whole body (or whatever parth they happened to be looking at) and said "Wow!" and completely thought they were having a vision.

"Really mom, I stayed up for 2 days to receive a vision and then suddenly a man walked by and he glowed, and left this cool glowing trail behind him!"


08:53PM ET
I've had this happen to me before, it can be rather interesting. Some other things to look for are dark gray morire lines when the wind is blowing. Also for a period of almost a year anytime I would look at black ink on white paper I would see blue and red 'copies' of the black that were just slightly out of phase with the black - somewhat like outlines but not quite.
Gavin Kistner
09:18AM ET

You know, I was all ready to write you off as a wacko. :) Because while you can get this effect with devices like monitors or printers, where the multiple color sources may get misaligned (called convergence), your eyes get one source of vision. How could it be misaligned?

All ready to write you off, and then at 5 in the morning working on a project under flourescent lighting, looking at laser-printed large black text on white paper...I saw it.

What is it? I'd have to guess it's a lack of focus, causing your eye (lens that it is, capable of bending light) to prismatically separate the light. Red and Blue, opposite ends of the spectrum. (OK, the blue should violet, but...let's ignore that. Or account for it by saying that the violet against the white paper gets washed out and perceived as blue.)

OK, no, I just came up with a better explanation. Ever flitted something back and forth under a flourescent light, like spinning a black line on a piece of paper? You see red and blue, right? Remember how above I said that the eyes flit back and forth? I think your eyes are shifting the paper around, I think it's a little late (slow recovery times in the eyes), and I think you're getting offset copies.

Now, what makes flourescent light so special?

02:20PM ET
That's a quite nice thing with the eye. Especially when you look at an image drawn for just that purpose. For example this one:
10:28AM ET
Maybe the 120 Hz flicker on fluorescent lights?

Dunno about flOUrescent lights, though... :P
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