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It is still normal to experience level 3, and even level 4, but only a small percentage of the population does this without psychedelic drugs, meditation or extensive visualization training. This can be seen when the eyes are closed and looking at the back of the eyelids. In a bright room, a dark red can be seen, owing to a small amount of light penetrating the eyelids and taking on the color of the blood it has passed through.

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In a dark room, blackness can be seen or the object can be more colourful. For a person who tries to actively observe this closed-eye perception on a regular basis, there comes a point where if they look at a flat-shaded object with their eyes wide open, and try to actively look for this visual noise, they will become aware of it and see the random pointillistic disorganized motion as if it were a translucent overlay on top of what is actually being seen by their open eyes.

When seen overlaid onto the physical world, this CEV noise does not obscure physical vision at all, and in fact is hard to notice if the visual field is highly patterned, complex, or in motion. When active observation is stopped, it is not obvious or noticeable, and seemingly disappears from normal physical perception. Individuals suffering from visual snow see similar noise but experience difficulty blocking it from conscious perception. Some mental control can be exerted over these closed-eye visualizations, but it usually requires a bit of relaxation and concentration to achieve.

These regions can span the entire visual field, but seem to be fleeting in nature. This level is relatively easily accessible to people who use psychedelic drugs such as LSD. However, it is also accessible to people involved in deep concentration for long periods of time.

Why Do I See Patterns When I Close My Eyes? | HuffPost

When lying down at night and closing the eyes, right before sleep the complex motion of these patterns can become directly visible without any great effort thanks to hypnagogic hallucination. The patterns themselves might resemble fractals. This is a fairly deep state.

At this level, thoughts visually manifest as objects or environments. When this level is reached, the CEV noise seems to calm down and fade away, leaving behind an intense flat ordered blackness.

What do you ‘see’ when you close your eyes?

The visual field becomes a sort of active space. A side component of this is the ability to feel motion when the eyes are closed.

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Opening the eyes returns one to the normal physical world, but still with the CEV object field overlaid onto it and present. In this state it is possible to see things that appear to be physical objects in the open-eye physical world, but that aren't really there.

This level can be entered from complete sensory deprivation, as experienced in an isolation tank , but even there it requires great relaxation. According to lucid dreaming researcher Stephen LaBerge , perceptions can come from either the senses or imagination. An inhibitory system involving in the thalamus , likely involving serotonergic neurons , inhibits imaginary perceptions from becoming too activated so they turn into hallucinations.

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This system is inhibited during REM sleep, and the imagination can freely run into the perceptual systems. What happens at level 5 is likely that this system is inhibited, just like in REM sleep, by different causes like sensory deprivation, psychedelic drugs or meditative relaxation techniques.

Image burn-in occurs when very bright objects lie in one's field of vision, and should not be confused with closed-eye hallucinations. Visual burn-in from bright lights is visible for a few minutes after closing the eyes, or by blinking repeatedly, but the burn-in effect slowly fades away as the retina recovers, whereas the waking-consciousness CEV noise will not disappear if observed continuously over a period of time. Also called " floater " - often appear as cells floating across the eye.

Full-closing and reopening the eyelids creates a very definite wiper-ridge in the corneal liquid that is readily visible.

Why do we see colors with our eyes closed?

Fully closing and reopening the eyelids also stirs up the corneal liquid which settles down after a brief moment. The motion of waking-consciousness CEV noise is not so directly and physically controllable and repeatable. This is not necessarily only associated with extreme nearsightedness. CEV does not seem to be related to the "sprites" blue field entoptic phenomenon that can be seen as dots darting around when staring up into a bright blue sky on a sunny day not looking at the sun.

These dots superimposed over a flat blue background are white blood cells moving through the blood vessels of the retina. The motion of waking-consciousness CEV noise is uniformly random compared to the waking-consciousness blue-sky sprite motion. CEV is unrelated to the visual noise seen when the retina is physically stimulated. The frequency, duration and types of effects can all be affected by which neurons are being stimulated at any given time. These phosphenes can be heightened by all kinds of everyday stimuli, such as an intense sneeze, hearty laughter, coughing, blowing your nose or standing up too quickly.

Other factors such as low blood pressure or low oxygen intake can increase the visual show even further, and certain drugs like LSD can take it off the scale. Another way to induce a charge of activity is to apply some light pressure on the eyelids when closed. This pressure triggers a different pattern of light activity and, all of a sudden, a whole new light show can be induced in a fraction of a second because the brain believes it is seeing a form of light.


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This happens either through chemical use or a form of meditation. Phosphenes are a combination of mechanical, electrical or magnetic stimulation that, even though they are considered a phenomenon, are very real. Please call one of our clinics during office hours or contact your nearest emergency department. Download the latest newsletter Subscribe. Do you see stars when you close your eyes?