Sharp Blue: Perceptual weirdness


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A few days ago I had a weird but ephemeral experience. I was standing in the kitchen about to drink a glass of water when I noticed some strange “fireflies” on the periphery of my visual field. At first I thought they were reflections in my glasses, but they were moving quite rapidly despite the stillness of my head and the absence of moving light sources in the room. The patches were not drifting but moving in zig-zags and I soon realised that they weren’t patches of light that had caught my attention but patches of some sort of weirdness in my visual system. I’m still not sure what kind of weirdness though. They were like moving regions of some kind of image processing or image processing failure. Possibly they were tracking edges in my visual field; maybe they were a kind of glitch in my edge-detection. They certainly weren’t drifting in the way that afterimages do. The experience lasted perhaps a little under a minute before the fireflies disappeared.

While it’s possible that I’d stumbled across flaws in the simulation in which we’re all trapped or was about to have some kind of brush with the numinous, I think it’s more likely I was experiencing a transient bug in my visual processing system. Unfortunately, I know so little about neurophysiology or cognitive psychology that I have no idea what exactly that bug could’ve been. I certainly hadn’t experienced anything like that before and, so far, there hasn’t been a repeat performance since.


What are the floating specks you sometimes see in front of your eyes?


To some people these "floaters" look like spots; to others, they look like tiny threads. They are not on your eyes, but in them. These floaters are bits of cellular debris that come and go without treatment. Most of the time they are nothing to worry about, but sometimes they can be a symptom of a retinal tear. If you notice a sudden increase or if you see floaters along with flashes of light, call your eye doctor. If you have other vision disturbances see vision abnormalities.

I see floaters, but I also see these tiny little firefly things. They have a blueish color and are more visible in blue light and in a blue sky. They move very quickly and are sometimes more pronounced. My brother is a doctor and he has no idea what I am talking about.

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