# I can see atoms? HELP SMART GUYS?/GIRLS!

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So, I realize that sounds kooky, but, I'm not sure how to describe my vision. When I was in 4th grade and the concept of atoms was first introduced, I drove my teacher crazy after I raised my hand and said I could see atoms. She asked where, and I pointed to her right, and she whirled to look, then I pointed to my left, and she whirled to look again, and then I realized everyone thought I was joking and I played it off as such. But, the thing is, I'm not joking....I don't actually think they are atoms, but I'm at a loss at how to describe them. It's akin to seeing the pixels on your computer screen- you see them, but mainly you just look past them to see what it is you're viewing.

Does anyone have any idea what this is?

I did research before I posted. - It's not floaters, it's not capillaries, not bacteria etc.

Everywhere I look, there are always tons of "clear" dots I see through- like watching tv or a computer- you see them, but only when you focus on them. The differences are:

1) if I were to make a pen point on a piece of paper, there would be more "clear dots" that would fill it than I could count. They're too small to count. Don't ask how I can see them- I don't know.

2) It seems like they move. It seems like they're constantly jittering or moving around- again, they are so small, I can't focus on one of them and watch it, they best I can do is look at thousands? and try to see if there is a pattern.

I've never asked someone to blow while I watch the air (c'mon- it sound weird even here) but, I'm at a loss as to what this is.

My history, I had fine (20/20 vision) till about 5th? grade (could see these before that) got glasses in the 6th grade (still could see them) contacts in the 7th grade (still see them) and now alternate (I'm 30) back and forth between contacts and glasses and always see them.

They don't effect my vision which is probably why I've never bothered with it. They do seem to be more prevalent in low/no light but I imagine that's because there's nothing else to look at- although it does seem to say it's internal because I can still see them...but, really, who's to say?

Anyways,

I would LOVE someone to help me figure this out!

Thanks!

gable_black@hotmail.com

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Does the motion of the specs you see relate in any way to how you move your eyes?

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it is impossible to see atoms with visible light, the wavelength is simply too long. i'm guessing something is up with your eyes. as skeptic said, do they move around when you move your eyes? i'm guessing floaters.

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You should go see an optician. You are not seeing atoms. The human eye can resolve objects only to $10^{-4}$m at something like 30cm. This is well below the the Rayleigh criterion.

The atomic scale is $10^{-10}$m. Your eyes simply cannot resolve objects that small!

But there is also a fundamental reason why you cannot see atoms, as insane-alien points out. The atomic scale is comparable to the wave-length of light. This means there is no way to use visible light to see atoms.

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I know people who say the same things, that they see these little clear circles, but I usually give AJB's explanation, which someone told me about a while ago.

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all of that makes sense, well, sense enough to the point that I understand it, but, I get the gist.

Yeah, I'm at a loss. Not sure what this is. They don't move when I move my eyes which is why I jumped to the atom comparison. But they do move independently- or at least I think they do (helpful, eh?). They're just so small I can't focus on an individual. Like I said, if I were to make a pen point on a piece of paper, there would be hundred/thousands that could occupy that point. I will go see a doctor- I just need to remember to ask this time.

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Floaters move somewhat randomly, and can stay in the same area, unless you move your eyes a lot (from straight up to straight down, or from far left to far right).

Another thing is, can you only see them with one eye? Look with your left eye only, then with your right eye only. If you can only see them with one eye, then it is something in your eye.

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I can see small flashes of light under the proper circumstances — somewhat dim lighting so they can show up, but with some direct bright source of light (like looking at a wall with the window open). The explanation I could find (IIRC) is that they are random firings of of the receptors in the retina from particles striking the retina that did not necessarily pass through the lens (possibly charged particles, or non-visible photons)

Another effect is phosphene, from mechanical stimulation of the retina, like when you rub your eyes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphene

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Don't eyes create some random noise in the signal to the brain? (Or perhaps the noise is created somewhere else, not in the eyes).

In the pitch dark I can see some dots too, but when there is plenty of light I guess I filter it out (automatically).

[disclaimer] I am no expert in this field. This post is merely a suggestion, and should be doublechecked. (Before I get flamed )

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I believe this is a common issue. There are sometimes floating items inside the eye which is probably what you're talking about. Go see an optometrist.

But you can't see atoms.

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gable,

I always see tons of little bright dots. Always. Everywhere. They seem to move, to dance around. It doesn't disturb my vision at all, and I saw them for as long as I can remember. It's a little hard to describe because it sounds really annoying, but in truth I can barely notice except when I think about it, and even in this case it doesn't hinder my vision in any way.

You'll find many crazy interpretations, I was once told I was able to see 'energy', the New Age kind of energy. In truth, it's just a simple entoptic phenomena; something happening within the eye.

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Would it be possible to use some sort of magnification lens to determine if the dots were outside of the eye? If they became magnified, wouldn't that imply that they were outside?

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gable,

although it maybe nothing to worry about please go see an optician, your GP or some other medical professional. No-one can make a diagnosis via this forum.

(the same goes for anyone else on here with eye troubles.)

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gable can go see an optician if he's concerned, but it's definitively not an eye trouble, it sounds much bigger than it really is. Which is probably why he never even thought of asking his optician before.

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What about millions of infinitesimally small red dots that flash in and out because I can never focus on them. They don't affect my vision, so I'm not going to see an optician, but they aren't something on the outside of my eyes. Maybe random constantly firing red cone cells (? the ones for colour)?

What I see sounds sort of like what PhDP was talking about, except they are red flashes of light which are smaller than anything I could ever focus on. And I don't notice them either, until I try to pay attention.

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Do they increase (in quantity) sometimes? If those are floaters, a medical exam must show the doctor if there are condensated points in your eye (i'm newbie about eyes and their diseases)... but my mother has a similar problem and it's also not possible to focus them. I'm sure you can't see atoms, if you could, bacterias would be like a house for you... The point is that I believe that you see those 'things', the thing i don't believe is that they are atoms... if you come and say you see eletrons i will fall from my chair!

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• 2 weeks later...

Random flashes of light and floaters are things to get check out. The random flashes can be signs of retinal issues such as dying cells, detachment, nerve damage, etc. Floaters are caused by objects, or blood, moving in your vitreous and casting shadows on your retina. Your vitreous should be 100% clear so something moving around in there and causing shadows is a sign of some damage.

Now granted, just seeing one flash of light or one floater is nothing to be concerned about. Not all flashes are caused by retinal damage. It's when you get a combination of the two that it's a bad sign.

In many sports injuries or car accidents, the victims will see flashes of light afterwards due to detachment of parts of their retinas.

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• 3 weeks later...

Yah see a doc if your really concerned. To me it just sounds like overstimulated/exititory photoreceptors (what our eyes use to pick up a individual pixel, like the dots on a old TV upclose). Try these 2 things and see if they are reminicent of seeing your atoms?

1. stare at a light bulb for a few seconds, then close your eyes and wait for the blob of light to go away.

2. When the blob of light is gone and all you see is darkness, press very gently on your closed eylids, youll probably see a bunch of dots all lined up perfectly where the pressure is. These are those very photoreceptors, being stimulated by the pressure of your fingers.

Even so, you could have a serious problem and should be vilgilant. Although if you've had it all your life, and its not progressing or getting worse, I wouldent worry to much more than to make an appointment.

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