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wundayatta's avatar

Do you have any peculiar ocular stuff going on?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) January 31st, 2012

Lately, my eyes have been doing this thing where it appears that my computer screen is 3D when it most decidedly isn’t. The letters seem to be floating above something. Sigh. Why couldn’t they make something useful into 3D, like a video of Shy’m?

What kind of weird stuff are your eyes doing?

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17 Answers

jonsblond's avatar

Unfortunately, yes. I often get what is called migraine with aura. I have moments that feel like my eyes are going cross eyed (this is the best way I can think of to explain it). It’s not quite a feeling of dizziness, but my eyes get kind of blurry and I need to sit down when this happens because I feel like I’m going to fall over. I also see zigzag patterns, blind spots and what looks like flashing lights when this happens. It’s not fun. :/

Judi's avatar

I went through that a few years ago. (and I think your a few years younger than me.)
My age elated vision loss continues to deteriorate, and I don’t know if it’s related, but the eye doctor told me recently that I have the beginning stages of cataracts. (I’m only 50, wtf?)

wundayatta's avatar

Oh, I get those ocular migraines, too. For me, fortunately, they aren’t associated with headaches. Just visual effects. Usually it’s like a sparkly field in my lower right visual quadrant. Gradually it spreads out, like a ripple, until it disappears from my field of vision and is over. It takes about half an hour to an hour. I think it, too, has to do with the computer screen.

And yippy yay! I, too, have been told I have the beginnings of cataracts. Too mild to do anything about it, she said. Oh. And I have floaties. It’s probably hazardous for me to drive. I can’t see good in the dark no more, neither. I’m 55.

Blackberry's avatar

My eye has been twitching a lot lately.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I have floaters.

Sometimes, while reading my eyes do this glitchy thing then I land back to what I’ve already read in the sentence I’m on (it’s difficult to articulate…it’s just “glitchy”).

I get migraines, too. I have pain when light enters my eye at the “wrong” direction. But, have no aura. Occassionally I do have an issue with stationary objects wavering. Not fun.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Blackberry Do you have allergies? That hapens a lot for me when my allergies are about to act up.

Stinley's avatar

When I’m tired my eyes stop cooperating with each other and go off and do their own thing. So in order not to see everything in double vision, I have to close one eye – usually my left. That’s when I know it’s bed time

Stinley's avatar

it’s it’s bed bed time time ;-)

wildpotato's avatar

Well, I got this going on right now…

As far as sight in general, I usually get mild visual distortions when looking at clouds while driving or when looking at a highly patterned floor or wallpaper. I’ve been told this is due to my gleeful and ongoing use of magic mushrooms, LSD, and occasionally other hallucinogens. With the clouds, it looks like they’re all slowly and steadily funneling upwards as I drive toward them, especially large thunderheads or stacks of cumulus – it is very beautiful, and quite fun to watch in my peripheral vision. Patterned things tend to resolve themselves into two layers, sort of like a magic eye poster, except I can make them float over one another by moving my eyes. This can be fun, but is sometimes rather sickening to watch, especially with the vomitrocious subway car floors. Sounds a bit like your computer letters floating over the screen.

Judi's avatar

@wildpotato , you made me remember. I think that when I was having that 3D feeling was when I had taken Ambien and was waiting for it to kick in before I went to bed. I stay away from that crap now.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Not visual but unbelievably burning sensations regularly. Eyes burn, tear and for a moment I can’t keep them open unless water is at hand. Awful sensation especially if you are driving and it ALWAYS happens out of the blue!

augustlan's avatar

I have dry eye, which, weirdly, means my eyes are always full of mucous-y ‘sleep’. It also feels like I’ve always got something in my right eye. Very annoying.

I’m starting to have a hard time with fine print, but it isn’t bad enough to need bifocals yet. Also having an increasingly hard time seeing while driving at night. Not that it’s too dark, but the lights blind me. I’m 44.

Esedess's avatar

For about 2 years now I’ve been seeing things I can’t quite explain. I’ll try to articulate here… Bear with me.

It all started when I was laying in bed just kinda idly looking off at the popcorn ceiling. Suddenly, like a switch was flipped, I started seeing what I can only describe as purple~ish/green~ish shadows that moved like pulsating fire across the room and through the air. The weirdest thing about it was that it wasn’t one of those instances where you see something, and then you really look at it and it goes away, or you realize you were mistaken. I was looking around, blinking, and legitimately focusing on specific areas of the room. I even stood up and walked around to get a closer look at things, and turned the lights on and off (to make sure I wasn’t just consciously distorting actual shadows or the like). Any attempt to reach a reasonable understanding of the phenomenon ultimately left me more perplexed. The best description I could give is that it looked like there were auras randomly moving and changing shapes around the room. Now, I’m a scientist and a skeptic, so of course I wasn’t about to accept that as an explanation. It continued to happen randomly apparently at times when I was holding my eyes still to some degree. It happened at meetings (which was very distracting). It happened while I was watching TV or taking showers. Inside, outside, in pitch black darkness, or with all the lights on, it didn’t make much difference. The more it happened the more vivid the “hallucinations” became. Over the next few months, and with much practice, I found that I could jump into whatever this state was at will, each time trying desperately to understand what I was seeing. I can only describe it as some sort of trance state. And for the record… I know how crazy this all sounds… I’m not saying anything in regards to what I saw, just that it happened.

Anyways, after a while some even weirder things started happening. The myriad of hallucinations became vast. Sometimes it looked like the air was grainy, as if I were seeing the atoms in the air. Sometimes it looked like objects had auras around them. A consistent one that would occur if I did it long enough was that a ring of greenish/purpleish light would come from behind my head and close into a ball in front of me, quickly followed by another, and another (like going through a tunnel backwards). Sometimes it would look like the air was full of a billion bright white sparks all darting, disappearing, and reappearing (this one is most comparable to when you spin or stand up too fast and have those little sparky things that will form around the edge of your vision… However, instead of being inside your own head they are out in the air.) Another one that would occur, most often when I was looking at popcorn ceilings, is that I would see complex geometric patterns (again formed by purple/greenish light) that would change so fast it made the ceiling look like it was moving… One time I was looking at a painting and greens were warping into browns and yellows. Another time, I was smoking a cig at work looking across a canyon to the other side, and it suddenly looked like the entire hillside, buildings and all, were moving towards me. It got to a point where I felt like I could take a step forward and I would be on the other side looking back (this one only happened once and I have not been able to re-do it). And the list goes on…
Eventually physical sensations became as much a part of the hallucinations as the visual aspects. A sensation of pressure on the middle of my forehead became a consistent presence with the “trance”. Eventually it became a sensation that would always preface the hallucinations, and often times occur independently of the visual effects. To gain a good grasp of this sensation, you can try putting a quarter on the center of your forehead. It kinda tickles in a weird way. This is pretty much what it feels like. Another thing that started happening along with the sensation on my forehead, was that I would become extremely tired to the point that I often couldn’t stay awake no matter how hard I tried. So much so, that I’ve used this thing to put myself to sleep many nights. Another one, is that sometimes when I’ve done this trance and I’m laying in bed with my girlfriend, even if she’s touching me and talking to me, I feel like she’s on the other side of the bed. One feels like I’m rocking back and forth, kind of like I’m in a hammock. Also, sometimes that sensation that appears on my forehead, will move around my body and feel like sweat is trickling down the side of my face, or like bugs are crawling on me. It actually took me about 50 times of checking to make sure there wasn’t a spider on me until I finally learned to just trust that there wasn’t. As with the visual hallucinations, the list of physical aspects is now vast, specific, somewhat controllable, and more elaborate than I could possibly explain in 3 hours.

After 2 years of this stuff, researching online, talking to friends, and asking on forums, I have a few theories about what is happening… but nothing conclusive or quantifiable. I’m still almost entirely at odds with what I’m experiencing… and I’ve yet to speak with someone who has expressed similar experiences. Some jokingly tell me I probably have a brain tumor. Others look at me like I’m crazy. And hippie types immediately jump to some supernatural explanation… =/ In all fairness to the hippies, to this day, the most concurrent things I’ve found on the subject are the descriptions of what “opening your 3rd eye feels like”. The report of experiences in that seem to most closely match up to what I experience, however I don’t count that as much of an explanation in any way. Even IF (and I do stress “IF”) that was what’s going on here, that does nothing for me besides give it a name.

Sorry for the essay guys… It’s incredibly hard to try and explain all this; like trying to explain colors to a blind person. The only reason I’m even going through the trouble here is to see if anyone else has had similar experiences, and what, if any, conclusions you came to on the matter.

wundayatta's avatar

I see a lot of purple auras, and sometimes green ones. Usually at night, while driving. They tend to hug the outlines of cars and buildings.

The bug hallucinations are common with people with schizophrenia. Did you research mental illness? I don’t know if some of the rest of your hallucinations are common there. I’d say that being a scientist stands you in good stead in helping you with it. Have you ever had any aural hallucinations? If these are related to brain chemistry, you can make them go away with the right meds.

But since you don’t seem to be all that bothered by them, you might not want them to go away. Hallucinations are interesting. Especially if they don’t make you crazy.

Esedess's avatar

Interesting. What you’re describing when you drive sounds exactly like at least one of the hallucinations I experience.

As far as the schizophrenia, I’ve never been diagnosed with any mental illness, and I don’t illicit symptoms that would beg an investigation. I have found some concurrence in mental illnesses, though things like Formication are usually indicative of fearful and uncontrollable sensations which occur independently, while mine aren’t… In fact, the description of bugs crawling on me is just an explanation I use to describe the sensation to others, for lack of a more correct analogy. It’s actually quite an enjoyable sensation, once I became sure it wasn’t actually bugs. Furthermore, I can start/stop and move the sensation around somewhat at will, while those with schizophrenia cannot.

As far as wanting these hallucinations to go away. No way! Haha. As you mentioned they are VERY interesting, and for me, entertaining. I’m far too intrigued to risk taking medicine I don’t need to get rid of something I can control on my own anyways.

Getting back to the aural hallucinations… Yes, I do get those as well. They were the 2nd hallucination I experienced following the purple shadows one. This one, I think I have a pretty reasonable explanation for though (which also plays into a few of the other things I’ve seen). Basically what is happening here, as you’ve described, is that you’ll see an “aura” around objects. It’s most commonly purple and green in color, and I’ve occasionally seen reds, and whites. First off, let me just preface all this with finding the origin of these colors for you. The colors I see, and I’m willing to bet you too, are the exact same colors you’ll see in the after image of staring at a bright light. Please test this and let me know if you would (keeping in mind the brightness of the light makes for brighter versions of these colors).
2nd, I think you’ll find that if you move your head or gaze that these auras will move with.

Based on those two things and a lot of messing around with that effect I’ve come up with the following:
1st, and I’m sorry to ruin any fun you may have been having imagining that you were actually seeing auras in the literal sense, but I don’t think these are auras. Most evident by the fact that they will form around any object, inanimate or otherwise.
2nd, just as in staring at a light and then looking away, you’re eyes will always pull a “ghost image”. These ghost images are more apparent when the original image was a bright light being burned into your retina. However, the faint light reflecting off anything, be it the side of a building, or a person, even at night, will also burn an image into your eyes (although it will be much less intense). The longer you keep your eyes still, the more that image is burned into them, and the more consistent with the original form the image your burning into your eyes will be. Then when you move your gaze, the ghost image of that form will pull along with. In an instance where you’re looking at an object continuously, the subtle involuntary eye movements that we all always make, will move the ghost image slightly around the object so that, unless the object is in your vision exactly where it was when the image was burned, it will look like there is an aura around it because a faint outline of the object is always extending past the actual object in a fluid manner. Usually these ghost images are too faint to notice, OR we’ve all just gotten used to them, and look past them. However it’s my belief that we are ALWAYS pulling a ghost image around every time we move our gaze. Even just casually looking around a room, an image is being burned into your retinas at every chance. The longer you look at one thing, the brighter the after image will be. And you’re always pulling around a bunch of them that are overlapping in succession respectively. Think of it like a bunch of spider webs in front of each other. I think that’s what you’re seeing here. I could easily see a superstitious mind taking these occurrences as their ability to see auras.
Now the really interesting part here, is that these ghost images, regardless of where they come from, do not just fade with time. In that, I mean they don’t hold their original shape as they fade. If you want to test this here’s how you can do it… Look at a light for about 10 seconds, and then look to a blank wall. Instead of trying to see the wall, try to forget the wall and look into the green/purple after image of the light. Keep your focus on the after image for a while and eventually you’ll see that instead of fading as you might expect, it will actually start to change shape and color. I don’t understand it, but after images fading are more relateable to dye mixing into a pool of water than an object slowly becoming invisible. Even more interesting, it seems that one might be able to focus and revitalize or hold a fading ghost image. If you get enough of these images overlapping and all changing shapes and colors independently, I think that’s when you get something like the fire-like shadows I mentioned.
This theory also corresponds to some other hallucinations I’ve had, but not all of them, and certainty not the physical sensation.

wundayatta's avatar

I know what you mean about the effects of bright lights and I think my “auras” are similar in look, but I don’t think that is what is causing them. For me, they might be the reverse of that—shadow. Perhaps it’s similar—just the edges where the contrast between light and dark is strongest.

I tend to be able to see them (when I try) by defocusing. Trying to use my peripheral vision more. Mostly, though, they happen on certain stretches of road—perhaps where there are streetlights and moving cars, so the contrast thing is more obvious.

I guess my rods and cones are deteriorating somewhat. I suspect it is harder for me to adjust to darkness than it used to be. I also have a lot of floaties so my vision almost always seems foggy. I bet it has something to do with spending so much time in front of a computer screen, as well. That’s a lot of bright light.

One thing I have done in my life is to lie down with my eyes closed and watch what happens inside my eyelids. The colors tend to be very vibrant and they constantly move. It’s like a light show. It’s different from what I see in the other ocular effects, but it also has some similarities. The colors are brighter and there are many more of them. The auras are usually only purple, although sometimes green. The inside visions move a lot, and contain many lines and strips of color and they do all kinds of things. The outside auras tend to hug to the edges of things and disappear quickly.

I feel like I can control the outside auras to some extent. I don’t feel like I control the inside visions. I can change them by blinking or squeezing my eyes tightly closed or by rubbing my eyes, but I can’t make them take any shape or color. That just happens.

When I first saw the auras, I was a little worried. I hoped it didn’t mean something bad was happening in my brain. I don’t think it is a good thing, but I don’t think it’s bad, either. Or rather, I think it’s a sign of age, and there’s not much I can do about that, given the alternative.

I started to wonder if this is what some, less scientifically inclined, people use to create an act by which they claim to be able to tell things about others. This is possible. I know I could use it that way if I wanted to, but that’s just because I’m a good story teller, and what people want are good stories

wildpotato's avatar

@Esedess I have gotten green/purple crackling fiery shadows once, from taking too much Robotussin (“robotripping” in the parlance). It was just for a little bit, around my computer monitor. I remember thinking it was like a line of dancers holding hands and all facing me, and also that it was like lightning. You also made me remember, when you mentioned using your forehead-feeling to go to sleep, that I’ve been able to induce a sort of physical sensation of slipping down a drain ever since I was very young, to get myself to sleep. Not ocular, but interesting.

Everything you describe sounds familiar to me, in that I would not feel surprised to see any of it while on shrooms or ‘cid. I’ve experienced the ability to jump into and out of “the state”, pixelation, tunnelling (though not with lights as you describe), and color warping. Your description of looking across the canyon and seeing and feeling the distance fold in reminds me of what happens with my clouds when driving. I think what’s happening there is that the eyes are malfunctioning in a specific way, where 3D is compressing into 2D. And when letters float over a computer screen and when patterns slide over each other – that’s 2D telescoping into 3D. If you want to elicit it again, I suggest looking at something far away , like the canyon, focusing on a single point on the canyon wall, and walking slowly towards or backing away from it while examining the effect in your peripheral vision.

If you’ve attained those sorts of strong visuals without extended use of hallucinogens – that’s a little amazing to me. Maybe your brain randomly made your eyes trip out for some reason – brains are weird like that.

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