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Why do we see stars if we get hit in the head?

What causes us to see those flashes of light if we hit our head?

5154 day(s) ago

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Seeing stars is a common symptom of head trauma that, if experienced, should be checked immediately by a doctor. Some people seem to be more susceptible to the phenomena than others, who report that they can be caused by something as innocuous as a sneeze. Why some people see those flashing lights that arenít there has to do with how the eyeball works. Inside the eye is a gel-like substance called vitreous fluid. The light collected from our eyes is transmitted to the brain via a bunch of nerve cells in the back of the eye called the retina. The interpretation of this light by the brain gives us our sense of sight. If we hit our head, or sneeze particularly strongly, the vitreous fluid in the eye rubs up against the retina and sends false signals to our brain that are interpreted as flashes of light, or stars.

These flashes of light are also commonly experienced by people who suffer from migraine headaches. Flashes of light often precede the headaches and can happen without any external force applied to head. Pressure can build in the eyes and sinus cavities to force the vitreous fluid to put pressure on the retina, causing the same experience. Some children discover that they can manually cause flashes of light by closing their eyes and pressing on their eyelids. Oxygen deprivation can cause flashes of light, also. Oxygen deprivation, however, has more to do with the nerves in the brain itself than the nerves in the eyes. In addition, sometimes seeing stars is a symptom of aging. Aging can cause the retina to misfire. Often, in the case of aging, there is no cure, and doctors simply tell their patients to sit down, relax, and enjoy the show until it subsides.

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