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When you hit your head, you may see stars or flashes. Is there a specific name for them?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Seeing flashing lights is called photopsia. But "seeing stars" is a perfectly normal way of referring to the phenomenon.

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Starting from the word you provide (“photopsia”), I have also found “phosphene”, defined as “a sensation of light caused by excitation of the retina by mechanical or electrical means rather than by light”. – Albertus Jun 6 '12 at 13:19

This is one of several types of entoptic phenomenon : visual effects whose source is within the eye itself

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Many people also use "knockout stars", as seen in cartoons when a character is knocked out. The character sees stars swirling around his or her head.

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