I wonder what is this color noise I see when I close my eyes. The visual field is black but there is definitely some subtle color noise which I can "see." I wonder where it comes from.

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    Welcome to Health SE. In its current state, this question is very unclear. Could you give us some more details. What screen are you referring to? What do you mean you "see" a subtle noise? I'm afraid I'll have to close this unless you edit. Thanks :)
    – michaelpri
    Jul 6, 2015 at 1:12
  • @michaelpri It's 2015, when someone says the "Screen is black", they are probably referring to computer screen in front of them, or using it as a metaphor for the current "vision" of their eyes. They probably wont be talking about an antique French dressing room screen, as those were not often black. Other then that the question is quite straightforward
    – TFD
    Jul 6, 2015 at 10:40
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    @TFD I was using a metaphor ofc. Jul 7, 2015 at 0:49
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    I suspected you weren't talking about antique French dressing room screens :-)
    – TFD
    Jul 7, 2015 at 0:55
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    On Biology.SE: What do you see when your eyes are closed?
    – Susan
    Jul 7, 2015 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


You are seeing phosphenes.

These have been described in medical notes for thousands of years

They are assumed to be caused by random firing of optic nerves due to stray electrical stimulation in the brain, or pressure on the eye

Other causes are; sudden changes in air pressure, moving from bright light outside into a dark room, violent body motions (like coughing or sneezing), over stimulation (sexual, drugs, grief), diabetic shock, violent sports (boxing, rugby etc); all these may cause pressure on the eye, or over stimulation of the bodies electrical system

If you are getting increased phosphenes, bright flashes of light, or fixed objects appearing with your eyes closed, these may be a sign of eye nerve damage, and a trip to the doctor may be a good idea

Interestingly, this is similar to the CCD device in a camera chip. They are very susceptible to stray electrical charge, and this causes a low level background noise in the picture, even in a totally dark room

Cellular mechanisms underlying the pharmacological induction of phosphenes


Wikipedia - Phosphene

  • I just want to emphasize the importance of going to the doctor if you see bright flashes of light or other unusual visual disturbances. Although often benign, they can be indicative of a variety of serious conditions, which are best treated when caught early. Jul 8, 2015 at 0:08
  • @Sue This is only if dramatically changes in your lifetime. Most people see phosphenes as it is a normal sign of a working brain
    – TFD
    Jul 10, 2015 at 22:18
  • I think it's super cool and interesting that our eyes and CCDs exhibit the same phenomena for similar reasons. Jul 13, 2015 at 13:43

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