What Does It Really Mean When You Start Seeing Stars?

Occasionally you see a star like these generous celeb tippers, and it’s great fun. However, sometimes after you hit your head, stand up quickly, or rub your eyes, you may see stars or bright dots of light in your eyes, which can be shocking to see. You may see them at other times as well.

You may see stars, or phosphenes, after a hard sneeze, which Health noted usually doesn’t indicate a serious problem. While most flashes of light are often relatively benevolent, sometimes they warrant a call to your doctor if they appear frequently. Migraine headaches, for example, can lead to seeing stars. The bright flashes could also be a symptom of a severe head injury like a concussion or a retinal tear or detachment (via Healthline). Another time seeing stars might indicate a more severe condition is if you see them randomly. 

Age plays a factor in how big a deal it is to see flashes of light. The older you get, the higher the risk of damage to your retina, one of the leading causes of the visual phenomenon, also known as photopsia. Seeing stars in your eyes could also indicate a few other health problems, including diabetes complications (via Healthline), high blood pressure that isn’t well-controlled, an infection, blood clots in the retinal blood vessels, or an ocular tumor (via Verywell Health). If you see them frequently, be sure to share that information with your doctor.

What happens in your eye when you see stars?

The physical cause of seeing stars is interesting and involves a gel that is part of your eye’s anatomy. “The part of your eyeball directly in front of the retina contains vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps your eye keep its shape. There are also tiny, very thin fibers in the vitreous. When these fibers pull on your retina or the gel rubs against your retina, you may see stars,” per Healthline.

Another physical cause sometimes occurs when you get hit on the head, the outlet explains. Upon impact, your occipital lobe is jarred. That causes the brain cells to send electrical impulses randomly, which your brain interprets as flashing light. While seeing stars occasionally serves as a bit of a nuisance, if it’s more frequently, or they don’t quickly go away, it may indicate you have a health problem that your doctor could treat. Be sure you contact your doctor if you’re concerned.

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