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When I glance at the sun, or a bare light bulb, I find that when I blink, or move my eyes, a superimposed image of the bright object appears wherever I look. What is this called?

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Compare phosphene, which is the same kind of image only not produced by light. –  Robusto Jul 5 '11 at 14:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

An after-image.

Oxford English Dictionary:

"The impression retained by the retina of the eye, or by any other organ of sense, of a vivid sensation, after the external cause has been removed."

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I was going to say this, but the rescources that I used refered to after-image as mainly an optical illusion, not the condition of being exposed to a bright light. –  OghmaOsiris Jul 5 '11 at 13:40
    
@Colin: Does this definition include sounds impressed on the ear? –  Daniel Jul 5 '11 at 13:45
    
@drm65: why are you asking me? Your interpretation of the OED is as valid as mine. –  Colin Fine Jul 5 '11 at 13:50
    
@colin: Now that is a compliment! –  Daniel Jul 5 '11 at 13:57
    

Flash blindness

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Though I think flash blindness means that your entire vision is impaired; this isn't quite the same thing. –  Daniel Jul 5 '11 at 13:44
    
I would say that my vision is impared if I have a giant round ball of light where my retina's got over exposed, lol. –  OghmaOsiris Jul 5 '11 at 13:45
    
The point was "entire" - not "impaired". Flash blindness appears to imply that the whole vision is affected, not just a part. –  Daniel Jul 5 '11 at 13:47

You used to get this with plasma televisions and it was called burn-in. Perhaps visual burn-in applies?

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It sounds a little contrived or vernacular, but I suppose it might work somewhere. –  Daniel Jul 5 '11 at 14:05
    
No, visual burn does exist, but is something different. Sometimes called 'navigator's eyeball', it refers to a condition where constantly looking at a bright light, (such as the sun through a sextant) has left a patch of the eyeball permanently impaired. –  TimLymington Jul 5 '11 at 14:56

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