Why do I sometimes see psychedelic patterns swirling about under my eyelids?

26 Mar

Oh hey, there's a broken down car up the road.  I wonder what's up.

If you’re certain it isn’t an acid trip?
I’m going to guess that the colouring in these swirls looks very similar to the kind you get on the road when there has been a leaky car or a petrol spill.
The swirls you see are excess oils on the surface of the eye.  The liquid over your iris isn’t entirely water, if it was it would just all evaporate.  There are oil glands in your eyelids which swirl oils over the surface to keep everything well lubricated.  (If one of these glands gets blocked it causes all kinds of ugly nonsense, but that’s quite another story.)
Although the eye itself can’t produce enough of these oils to give a visible effect, the uncombusted petrol fumes in exhausts of big messy cars like Land Rovers can pollute the atmosphere and settle on the eye.  Especially if you walk along busy roads a lot.
You might imagine that eyelids are blackout curtains for your eyes, but they actually let quite a lot of light in.  Just try looking into a torch with your eyes closed – or rather, don’t.  It’s not that fun.  It’s the light coming through your eyelid at a certain angle that allows you to see these psychedelic patterns swirling around.
Either that or you’ve been listening to too much Portishead.
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Posted by on March 26, 2010 in Why?


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