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I would like to know the reason why when i use my electric toothbrush my vision is wavey but only when i look at my computer or television, i know it has to do with the refresh rate but is it also affecting my vestibular ocular reflex? would i get dizzy if it was?
- Crystal Martin (age 13)
Since nothing but the CRT (cathode ray tube) screens gets wavey, you
can be confident that your vision is just fine. The effect is purely
electromagnetic. The toothbrush is giving off some E-M pulses which
affect the paths of the electrons in the the CRTs on their way to the
Another thing which could be happening is that your electric
toothbrush is making your whole head vibrate just a little bit. If the
vibrations of your head and the refresh rate of the screen are slightly
different (or are slightly different from a multiple of each other),
then you will see slow wiggles in what the screen looks like. We've
already covered the case where you blow a raspberry (a good old "Bronx
Cheer") at a computer screen (search for "raspberry" in our answers).
This produces nice wavey patterns when I do it with my screen sitting
in front of me.
Mike tells me he tried turning on an electric toothbrush next to a
computer monitor and saw wavey patterns. If you just hold the
toothbrush close to the monitor without sticking it in your mouth, the
effect would have to be due to electromagnetic pickup. Check to see if
the effect gets stronger as you wave the toothbrush closer to the
monitor. I don't have an electric toothbrush so I couldn't try it
Regardless of the origin of the waviness, you certainly can get
dizzy or get a headache by doing this. The effect should wear off when
(published on 10/22/2007)
Follow-up on this answer.