Bright well defined circular phosphenes

At night in the dark in bed as I turn on my side I often see for a couple of seconds a bright (highly luminous) circular pattern with well defined edges and a dark centre like a abstract design going round the edge of a dinner plate. I have just found out these are called phosphenes. Am also beginning to recognise a vaguely arc shaped dimply/spotty fuzzy shape that is always the same against a fuzzy background. Have had trabulectomy operations in April and June so thought they were to do with that, but these circular ones came on some weeks following those operations and within a period when various other symptoms were presenting elsewhere in my body that have led to me being referred to a neurologist. Anybody else get these?

A friend of mine sometimes gets bright patterned lights in the morning which are usually precursors to a bad day (:-(), but it’s not something I’ve experienced.

Phosphenes are the result of stimulation of the visual pathway in the absence of actual stimuli. Patterned phosphenes suggest to me that it is your visual cortex that is misfiring. Sorry I can’t tell you more.

Karen x

I had phosphenes after having optic neuritis and yes they were usually worse in the dark. Phosphenes can be caused by other eye problems.



Thank you for this quote - it describes exactly what happens to me! Sad to say, this has never gone away since my episodes of ON.


Definitely one to mention when you go through the list of problems with the neurologist. With me, the flashes were associated with ON and other MS eye trouble, but don’t assume the worst - my opthalmologist was unbothered by the flashes and her letter says ‘you can sometimes get flashes of light due to the movemetn of the jelly in the eyes on moving the eyes and I would simply advise you to report to us if there is any sudden change in your symptoms…’



Thanks for your comments y’all. Yes Flapper I am very myopic.


I get phosphenes too and mines are like 2 half semi circles on the outer and 2 half semi circles on the inner that don’t actually meet up at the top or bottom. I get these when i close my eyes tightly, i think it resembles a cat’s eye. I started experiencing this in April and it’s not left me yet, weirdly i quite like it!

I also get flashing bright lights darting across my eye when i look to my deepest left corner and if i look to the left, but not deepest corner, from up to down i get what resembles a Dulux paint colour chart of of dark grey down to light grey as it passes down the colours, like you all it happens in near darkness or in total darkness and lasts only a second or two. I get flashes too if i’m startled.

I have been told by my eye specialist that it could be retina detachment too, which i don’t have, or it could be the jelly.

Optic neuritis is my bug bear and i’m on to bout number 8 at the mo with my visually impaired right eye affected again with more windowlene haziness and near black and white colour vision.

Oh the joys!!

Paula xx

Mentioned them to the eye specialist this morning and he thought they could be indicative of migraine, especially if ther are in colour - which they are. Never knowingly had a migraine though, I’m a man so I dont get headaches, just joking.