What does ophthalmologist see in your eye?

What does ophthalmologist see in your eye?

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I always wondered what ophthalmologists see inside someone's eye and what they're looking for. The whole thing is a mystery to me. Are there any photos of what the eye of a patient looks like from the doctor's point of view?

The name of the instrument is ophthalmoscope. It is used to determine the health status of your retina. Retina is the one of the few places in the body where you can observe the blood vessels directly.

The link also includes a picture of what your eye looks like from doctor's point of view.

They look at retina. Google for it. The look of retina can evident of some diseases. This is the subject of medical education.

Retina specialist: When should you see one?

A retina specialist (or retinal specialist) is an ophthalmologist who has undergone additional training to become an expert in the diagnosis, management and treatment of diseases of the retina of the eye.

In most cases, a retina specialist does not perform routine eye exams or prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses.

An ophthalmologist is a doctor/surgeon who has become specially trained in eye care. They identify and treat conditions or diseases that manifest in the eye through medicine and surgery.

An ophthalmologist is required to go through years of pre-medical education and medical school with medical practitioners. This is usually followed by an internship, and several more years of practical, hands-on surgical training. After this, they are certified to practice as a medical doctor officially.

The ophthalmologists also specialise in different diseases of the eye, such as strabismus, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. They may also assist in the monitoring of systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus.

Results and Follow-Up

When should I know the results of the eye exam?

Most of the time, your provider will give you results from your eye exam right away. If you need glasses or contacts, you’ll leave the appointment with a prescription. You’ll also have information about your vision, eye structure and eye health. Sometimes your provider may recommend a follow-up appointment or additional tests.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Eye exams not only help you see better, they also detect eye problems that can cause vision loss. Many of these problems don’t have any outward signs or symptoms, so the only way to catch them is through an exam. Ask your provider how often you should get an eye exam. When you see your eye doctor, be sure to share information about your family’s eye health history. Regular eye exams are an essential part of maintaining good overall health.

Seeing Your Retina

A dim point of light will cast a shadow of the retina's network of blood vessels onto the retina itself. Try this activity and you'll be able see the blood supply of your retina—and your blind spot.

CAUTION: Do not try this activity with an LED Maglite. The LED is too bright to hold this close to your eye.

Tools and Materials

  • Mini Maglite or a penlight with an incandescent bulb (CAUTION: do not try this with an LED Mini Maglite the bulb is too bright to hold so close to your eye)
  • 3/8-inch dowel, cut to the length of an AA battery
  • Aluminum foil
  • Room that you can darken
  • Sheet of black construction paper


  1. Wrap the dowel completely in aluminum foil (click to enlarge image).
  2. Unscrew the back of the Mini Maglite and remove one AA battery. Replace the battery with the aluminum foil–wrapped dowel (click to enlarge diagram).
  3. Unscrew and remove the front cover of the Mini Maglite. The light will come on as a dim point source.
  4. Darken the room by turning off the lights and closing the shades.

To Do and Notice

Hold the Mini Maglite about 1 cm in front of, and slightly below, the center of one of your pupils. (Don't poke yourself in the eye! It's best to wear eye protection and hold the light just in front of it.)

Look at the sheet of black construction paper (click to enlarge the diagram below). The black paper should fill your field of view.

While looking straight ahead, move the light slowly from side to side a short distance, about 0.5 cm in each direction. Do not follow the motion of the light with your eye—keep looking straight ahead as you move the light back and forth for 20 seconds.

Notice what appears in your field of vision. It will look like the branches of a tree, or the branching of a river viewed from high above.

What’s Going On?

What you see is the pattern of arteries and veins that supply blood to your retina. The network of blood vessels spreads out from the disk shape of your blind spot.

In human eyes, the blood supply of the retina is located in front of the retina, which means that light passes through the blood supply on its way to the photodetectors on the retina. We don't see the retinal blood supply because it doesn't change, and our eyes ignore unchanging images.

The point source of light casts a shadow of the retinal blood supply on your retina. When you move the point of light from side to side, the shadow moves. You can then see the changing shadow.

Going Further

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which pressure builds up inside the eyeball. The pressure squeezes on the retinal blood supply network, reducing blood flow to the periphery of the eye and resulting in the death of the retina, starting at the periphery and working in toward the center. One of the symptoms of glaucoma is tunnel vision.

This Science Snack is part of a collection that highlights Black artists, scientists, inventors, and thinkers whose work aids or expands our understanding of the phenomena explored in the Snack.

Dr. Patricia Bath (1942-2019), pictured above, was an ophthalmologist and laser scientist, and was the first woman chair of ophthalmology at a US university. She studied the causes of and cures for blindness, and invented a widely used method of using laser surgery to treat blindness caused by cataracts. Dr. Bath also co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. This Science Snack can help you investigate the structures in the eye that help you see, so you can understand the eye like Dr. Bath did.

What Exactly Does an Optometrist Do?

An optometrist is a health professional who does primary health care for the eye. Optometrists examine the eyes to diagnose any problems in vision and prescribe corrective lenses for them. Optometrists have done a four-year professional program after college to get a Doctor of Optometry degree. They may also get additional clinical training or a specialty fellowship after the optometry degree.

What are the various kinds of eye doctors?

Healthcare professionals who specialize in eye care are mainly divided into three categories:

What functions does an optometrist have?

Optometrists have several roles related to the primary care of the eye. These include:

  • Performing eye examination and vision tests.
  • Treating conditions such as: (an eye defect in which there is a distorted curving of the eyeball or lens)

What training and functions does an ophthalmologist have?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor specialized in the medical and surgical care of the eyes. Ophthalmologists have completed medical school and subsequently do an internship for a year and residency for three years. They may sometimes additionally do a one- to two-year fellowship.

Ophthalmologists offer a spectrum of eye health services which include:

  • Vision services, including eye exams.
  • Medical eye care for conditions like glaucoma, and chemical burns.
  • Surgical eye care for trauma, crossed eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, and other problems.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions associated with other diseases, including cancers of the eye, diabetes or arthritis. to raise droopy eyelids or smooth out wrinkles.

What functions does an optician have?

Opticians are not eye doctors and they cannot examine the eyes. Qualifications include a one to two-year degree, certificate, or diploma. Their roles include:

  • Checking lens prescriptions.
  • Filling prescriptions given by an eye doctor.
  • Providing, adjusting, and repairing glasses, frames, and contact lenses.
  • Taking measurements of the face to fit corrective lenses.
  • Helping decide which type of lenses and frames will work best, functionally and aesthetically.
  • Ordering and checking products, including contacts and eyeglass lenses.


Should I visit an optometrist or an ophthalmologist?

If you want to get a routine checkup of your eyes, you can see either an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

If you believe you have an eye problem like cataract or glaucoma, or a health condition like diabetes that may compromise your vision, an ophthalmologist may be best. Ophthalmologists have advanced medical training that qualifies them to evaluate and treat these conditions.

How often should I get my eye examination done?

We all can benefit by eye examination on a routine basis. If you don&rsquot have any diagnosed vision problems and don&rsquot notice any symptoms, follow the general rules below:

  • Young adults: Once in your 20s and twice in your 30s.
  • Adults: At age 40 with regular follow-ups, depending on your health.
  • Adults 65 and above: Every one to two years.
  • Children: At birth, six months, three years, and before entering grade school. Schools may also perform routine eye exams.

Apart from routine visits, you need to go to the eye doctor in the following situations:

How do they differ from optometrists and orthoptists?

Optometrists are university-trained eye care professionals who examine people&rsquos eyes and prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses. They can give advice on visual problems and screen for conditions such as glaucoma. Optometrists can treat minor eye problems, but will refer you to an ophthalmologist for the diagnosis and treatment of more serious eye conditions.

Orthoptists are healthcare professionals who specialise in assessing and managing eye movement disorders, such as double vision and squints (strabismus) in children and adults. Their role includes caring for people with eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, as well as people with low vision and neurological vision disorders.

Flashes and Floaters in Your Eyes: When to See the Doctor

Do you ever see something drifting across the sky and discover that it’s actually drifting across your eye?

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That would be a “floater.” Floaters are bits of debris in the interior of your eye that appear when you look at something white or very bright. “People describe them as cobwebs, spider webs, bubbles or even ‘tadpoles’,” says ophthalmologist Rishi Singh, MD.

Dr. Singh sees patients with floaters and “flashes” every day. Flashes often accompany floaters and look like a camera flash going off when you close your eyes or wake up in the middle of the night.

When to see an ophthalmologist

Prompt appointments are especially important if you see many floaters — or if floaters are accompanied by flashes.

If you’ve had floaters for 40 years, you don’t have to see your ophthalmologist. But if you have ‘recent-onset’ floaters — if they weren’t there yesterday or last week — see an ophthalmologist that day or the next.

Flashes are more ominous than floaters, notes Dr. Singh, because they signal an irritation of the retina from tugging, tearing, inflammation or infection.

“When the retina is stimulated, the brain sees it as light because it only has photoreceptors,” he explains.

A mild tug can progress to a retinal tear, which can progress to retinal detachment — a medical emergency. Torn or detached retinas must be promptly repaired by laser surgery or another procedure to preserve vision.

Despite the fast action required, there is no need to panic, says Dr. Singh. Flashes and floaters are usually symptoms of a problem that turns out to be minor.

Causes for flashes and floaters

Flashes and floaters can be caused by:

  • Detachment of the jelly-like “vitreous” from the retina. Detachment of the innermost light-sensitive layer of the eye is the most common cause of floaters and flashes. Posterior vitreous detachment occurs naturally as we get older, typically around ages 55 to 60. When it occurs in one eye, it usually follows in the other. or detachment. This is often a result of vitreous detachment, near-sightedness (myopia) or any kind of trauma or eye surgery
  • Hemorrhage, or blood leakage, from a tiny vessel in the retina. Hemorrhages can occur when a strong pull on the retina tears a blood vessel or when abnormal blood vessels develop in the eye in conditions such as diabetes. Small hemorrhages may disappear on their own, but larger hemorrhages that persist may require surgery.
  • Infection and inflammation. Infection, such as fungal infections, and inflammation, such as uveitis (involving the middle lining of the eye) can cause flashers and floaters.
  • Tumors of the eye. While rare, these must be ruled out, says Dr. Singh, an expert on ocular tumors.

How to take care of your eyes

Whether or not you have flashers or floaters, you can help preserve your eyes. Experts say:

  • Eat a balanced diet to be sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs to keep your eyes healthy.
  • Quit smoking (a huge risk factor for macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness in the elderly).
  • Wear sunglasses when in bright light for extended time to protect against UV light exposure.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

What Do Those Floaters You See in Front of Your Eyes Mean?

Have you ever noticed faint strings floating in your eyes when you stare at something for too long? If you haven’t, try it. Look up at a clear sky during the day and move your eyes around. After a short while, you’ll eventually notice them. Don’t worry, you don’t have to schedule an eye exam yet because these “floaters” are not particularly harmful. However, not many people are aware of what they are exactly.

Let our specialists at the Institute for Control of Eye Myopia in Children explain where these small visual streaks and flashes come from and what they’re telling you about the health of your eyes.

What They Are

The lens of your eye is connected to the retina by a structure known as the vitreous humor, or simply the vitreous. It’s a transparent gel-like substance that resembles the consistency of a raw egg yolk. As you get older, the vitreous contracts and forms strings that seem to move more quickly when you try to follow them with your eye.

On the other hand, flashes in the eye are simply the result of the vitreous membrane “bumping” against the retinal wall. Typically, this can happen after some rigorous eye rubbing or when you’ve undergone some extensive vision therapy.

What They Mean

These flecks and flashes are a normal part of your eye and pose no serious risk to your health. However, when they become more transparent and increase in number, that’s when they become problematic.

If you notice a sudden jump in the number of floaters you see in your visual field, consider undergoing vision correction and consultation with a specialist immediately. This could mean problems with the connecting tissues keeping your lens and retina in place.

Learn more about the common signs of eye problems with our professionals at the Institute for Control of Eye Myopia in Children. Contact a local myopia control specialist in your area today.

Eye Floaters & Flashes

There are times when you’re looking at the sky or a blank wall and notice little shapes floating in front of you. They’re not quite clear — almost like little bits of dust stuck on a camera lens. You try to blink them away, but they’re still there. When you look somewhere else, these shapes move with you.

When this happens, you are experiencing eye floaters. Eye floaters are solidified parts of a gel-like substance within the middle of your eye called your vitreous or vitreous humor. As you age, the vitreous starts to shrink within your eye, creating these small particles. Floaters slowly drift through the vitreous. As they move, they pass in front of your macula (the center of the retina), which allows you to see them.

Floaters are very common and, for many people, are a part of the natural aging process. In most cases, you don’t need to treat floaters. They can be annoying at first, but over time you won’t notice they’re there anymore. Sometimes this is mistaken with them going away completely. Floaters can get less pronounced, but they are permanent and stay in eye.

Sometimes, they can be a sign of a more serious eye condition called retinal detachment. In this condition, the shrinking and pulling away of the vitreous (called posterior vitreous detachment) causes the retina to detach. This can cause serious vision problems. Retinal tears are another condition that can be caused by the shrinking of the vitreous. It’s important to remember that as the vitreous shrinks over time, it can create floaters. If you suddenly have more floaters than normal or are experiencing flashes (bursts of light across your field of vision), you should reach out to your eye care provider right away.

What do eye floaters look like?

There are many ways to describe eye floaters. Some people see spiders, medusas, amoebas or clouds. The way you think a floater looks is guided somewhat by your own creativity. If you have floaters, you might see:

  • Squiggly lines.
  • Spots.
  • Spider-like shapes.
  • Thread-like strands.
  • Small shadowy shapes.
  • Black or very dark spots.

There’s no one way you might see floaters and your description of floaters might sound completely different than another person.

What parts of the eye are affected by eye floaters?

When you have eye floaters, they can often appear to be in front of your eye or right on the surface. You may rub your eyes or remove your contact lenses to try to get rid of the dust-like particles. However, eye floaters are located inside your eye. Think of your eye as a ball. To get its round shape, your eye is filled with a gel-like fluid called vitreous. The vitreous is in the middle of the eye with the other structures that allow you to see the world located around it.

Moving from the front of your eye to the back, you have several layers, including:

  • The cornea.
  • The pupil.
  • The iris.
  • The lens.
  • The retina.
  • The optic nerve.

When talking about floaters and their impact on the eye, it’s important to know about the retina. Located at the back of your eye, the retina changes the light that comes into your eye into electrical signals. These signals go to the brain where they become images. When you have floaters in the vitreous, they’re hovering in front of the retina. This casts shadows and shapes on the retina, which you then see as a part of the thing you are looking at.

Are eye floaters normal?

Eye floaters are often a normal and common part of the aging process. As you get older, the fluid within your eyes (vitreous) shrinks. This is normal and doesn’t mean that your eyes are no longer healthy. It is important to maintain regular eye exams over time, especially if you are experiencing floaters. They usually aren’t something you need to be concerned about, but it’s a good idea to have your eyes regularly checked to make sure there aren’t any other serious eye issues.

Can eye floaters happen in only one eye or both eyes at the same time?

Your eyes may not age exactly the same or do everything at the exact same time. The vitreous might shrink in one eye a little faster than in the other. Often, eye floaters are found in one eye at a time. It can happen to both of your eyes, but this usually doesn’t happen at the same time.

What causes eye floaters?

There are several reasons that you might develop eye floaters, but the main one is age. As you get older, the gel-like fluid inside your eye (vitreous) starts to shrink. When the vitreous shrinks, it creates small particles that float down through the fluid. These are your floaters. They eventually settle towards the bottom of your eye where you won’t notice them anymore. This is usually the cause of eye floaters in most people.

There are several other, less common, causes of eye floaters. These include:

If you have blood in your eye, it’s often linked to diabetes. A condition called diabetic retinopathy can cause blood from the retina to get into the vitreous. You might see this as dark spots or streaks in your vision. If you have diabetes, you should have regular eye exams to check your vision.

You can also experience inflammation inside your eye. Sometimes your eye can become inflamed (swollen), causing you to experience floaters. This inflammation is called uveitis.

Are eye floaters hereditary?

Eye floaters can happen to anyone as they age. However, other vision issues — like retinal tears or detachment — could be hereditary. If you have a family history of retinal detachment or tears, you might be at a higher risk of developing one in the future. Eye floaters and flashes are potential signs of retinal detachment or retinal tears.

Other risk factors that can be passed down through your family relate to your sight — specifically nearsightedness. If you’re nearsighted, you could be at a higher risk of developing floaters. This could eventually lead to retinal detachment.

However, many people have no family history of retinal detachment or retinal tears when they experience eye floaters. It’s important to remember that eye floaters often happen naturally over time and are a part of the aging process.

Who’s most likely to develop eye floaters?

In most cases, eye floaters develop as you age. They can happen to anyone, but you are at a higher risk of eye floaters if you:

  • Are older (typically over age 50).
  • Are nearsighted (have trouble seeing things that are far away).
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have had eye issues in the past like swelling within your eye.
  • Have had a surgery to correct cataracts.

What age do eye floaters usually start to appear?

For most people, eye floaters start to show up in their vision between the ages of 50 and 70. However, you can see the occasional floater any time before then. Those are much less common. You may want to check in with your eye doctor about persistent floaters you see at a younger age because it could be a sign of a more serious eye condition.

How are eye floaters diagnosed?

Your eye care provider will usually diagnose eye floaters during an eye exam. Your eyes will be dilated so that your provider can get a clear look at the inside of your eye. This allows the provider to see floaters you have and check on your retina. Making sure your retina is not damaged and there’s no sign of a retinal detachment or tear, is an important part of your eye exam.

You may need to have regular eye exams if your provider finds floaters. This is a precaution and allows your provider to keep track of how your vitreous is shrinking over time. Going to these regular eye exams can help prevent a more serious eye problem from happening down the road.

What questions will my doctor ask me about eye floaters and flashes during an appointment?

During an appointment to diagnosis eye floaters, your eye care provider will want to get as many details as possible about your vision and what you’ve been seeing. This is part of the diagnosis process and helps your provider figure out what’s going on with your vision. The more detail you can provide, the better. Some questions you provider may ask you can include:

  • When did you first notice the eye floaters?
  • What do your eye floaters look like and how many do you usually see at a time?
  • How often do you experience eye floaters?
  • Have you ever seen flashes in your vision?
  • Have you had any eye surgeries in the past?
  • Have you ever had an eye injury?
  • Are any parts of your vision covered (think of a curtain in front of your eyes)?
  • Do you see any shadows on the side of your vision (peripheral)?
  • Do you have any autoimmune diseases?
  • Are you diabetic?

Sometimes it can help to start a journal when you first experience a vision problem. Write down everything you saw and details like how long it lasted. This can be a helpful tool when you go into your provider’s office for your appointment.

How do you treat eye floaters?

The most common treatment for eye floaters is not to treat them at all. Even though they can be annoying and bothersome, eye floaters are usually harmless. They usually drift out of your line of sight and you stop noticing them over time. This can be frustrating for people who notice the eye floaters dancing across their view often, but it’s the safest option in most cases.

Eye Floater Surgery

There is a surgical option for removing floaters, but it involves a lot of risk to your vision. In cases where there are a lot of floaters and they’re starting to impact the way you see, a procedure called a vitrectomy can be used to remove them. This surgical procedure involves using incisions to remove the gel-like vitreous from inside your eye. The vitreous is then replaced with a solution that mimics the vitreous. There are several risks involved in this procedure, including:

  • Developing retinal detachment.
  • Developing retinal tears.
  • Not getting all of the floaters out of your eye.
  • Developing cataracts.

Damage to your sight is a risk of this surgery. For this reason, many providers will carefully discuss all pros and cons of this elective procedure before deciding on this treatment path.

Sometimes your provider may also use a laser to treat floaters. This can break up groupings of floaters, helping move them out of your field of vision. This procedure also has possible side effects.

There are no home remedies to make eye floaters go away. Unfortunately, they are often a natural part of aging. Even though they will fade and not be noticeable anymore over time, they never truly go away.

Will eye floaters go away over time?

For many people, eye floaters do not necessarily go away over time, but they do become less noticeable. They slowly sink within your vitreous and eventually settle at the bottom of your eye. Once this happens, you won’t notice them and will think they have gone away. Your brain will also start to ignore them over time, helping you to not notice that they’re still there on the edges of your vision.

The floaters will stay in your eye, settled towards the bottom. They don’t go away, but they usually don’t cause issues for most people over the long-haul.

Can eye floaters and flashes be confused with other medical symptoms?

When you are seeing unusual things in your field of vision, it can sometimes be alarming. Floaters are typically harmless, but they can easily be confused with other vision changes like large spots in your vision. These symptoms can be signs of other medical conditions like:

It’s always a good idea to reach out to your healthcare provider if you have sudden changes to your vision. This could be especially important if you have a medical history of a condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Are eye floaters an emergency?

Eye floaters are usually not an emergency. If you see the occasional eye floater, it typically isn’t something to worry about. You should let your eye care provider know about the floaters and have your eyes checked regularly to make sure there are no other vision issues, but this isn’t an emergency.

However, if you suddenly have more floaters than normal, reach out to your healthcare provider right away. This could be a sign of a retinal tear or detachment and it will need to be treated quickly.

Can you have eye floaters and flashes at the same time?

You can experience floaters and flashes together or on their own. Both floaters and flashes happen when the vitreous pulls on the retina, creating tension.

What are eye flashes?

Flashes are bright spots or points of light in your field of vision. You can develop flashes for a few reasons, but one of the most common is when the gel-like vitreous in your eye shrinks and begins to pull on your retina. This is called posterior vitreous detachment. You’re more likely to see flashes as you age and the vitreous of your eye naturally shrinks.

For many people, flashes will happen more often first thing in the morning or when you’re in a dark room. You might wake up seeing flashes of bright light that then fade as the day continues.

Who’s most likely to develop eye flashes?

Eye flashes are most often see in:

What do eye flashes look like?

Flashes can be described in several ways, including seeing:

  • A bright spot or streak of light.
  • A jagged light that looks like lightening.
  • Bursts of light that look like fireworks or camera flashes.

Some people also compare flashes in your vision to when you hit the back of your head and see bright lights for a few moments.

Are eye flashes a symptom of a more serious eye problem?

Eye flashes can be a symptom of retinal detachment or retinal tears. These are serious conditions that can damage your sight. A retinal tear is a break in the retina. A retinal detachment happens when the vitreous pulls away from the retina, creates a break allowing the fluid from the vitreous can get behind the retina and cause damage to your vision.

How are eye flashes related to migraines?

Seeing a flash of light can be one symptom of a migraine. When you have a migraine, your vision can be affected. You might see a flash that looks like a jagged bolt of lightening or a zigzag line. This might look different than a flash you would experience if you have posterior vitreous detachment. Another difference is the age you might experience the flashes. Flashes that are linked to migraines typically happen in younger people, while seeing flashes when your vitreous is shrinking usually happens at an older age. With an ocular migraine you might or might not get a headache.

How are eye flashes treated?

Flashes are usually treated by taking care of the condition that’s causing them. If you’re experiencing flashes related to migraines, treating your migraines can help relieve the flashes. This can also be the case if you are experiencing retinal detachment or a retinal tear. You’ll need to have the condition treated to help relieve the flashes. This is also a serious eye condition that you will need to see your provider about quickly. Remember to reach out to your provider right away if you experience new or more flashes than normal.

When should I worry about eye floaters or flashes in my vision?

In most cases, the occasional eye floater or flash in your vision isn’t something you need to worry about. This often happens as you age and it’s very normal. However, if you start to notice a lot more floaters than you’ve experienced in the past or many flashes, you should call your doctor. This could be a sign of a serious vision problem like a detached retina. If you have a detached or torn retina, you’ll need treatment.

It’s important to take care of your eyes, especially as you age. If you notice anything unusual happening with your vision, it’s often a good idea to call your healthcare provider. Having your eyes checked regularly and voicing any concerns is a good way to keep your eyes healthy over time.


The University of Sussex has a website packed with information about the eye:

This website, sponsored by the Shimojo Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, has some nice afterimage information:

This site, from the University of Washington, has a wealth of information about neuroscience, the eye, and afterimages:

The Exploratorium has a page with more project ideas about afterimages:

A visual illusion based on cone cell fatigue won a contest by the Neural Correlate Society for "The Best Visual Illusion of 2008." You can see the illusion here: