Science

What are the symptoms of eye damage from viewing a solar eclipse?

What are the symptoms of eye damage from viewing a solar eclipse?

Sun exposure can cause damage to many structures in the eye.

Dr. Barry Gridley, who practices at Eye Care Locale in downtown Dayton, Ohio, said even on a regular day, he still sometimes sees patients with damage from looking right at the sun.

If you're still psyching yourself out, consider this study that looked into the "symptoms of 45 patients who reported to an eye center at a Leicester, U.K. hospital after viewing the 1999 solar eclipse". This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain.

Depending on how long you looked at the sun and how badly your retinal cells were damaged, the spot will either fade away quickly or remain permanent.

So, while we'd recommend those of you complaining about eye pain to go see a doctor, pain isn't a good indicator of whether you've experienced retina damage.

You may have permanently damaged your eyes and not even be able to tell for several days. If you feel that your headaches and nausea are associated with visual changes, such as blurriness while reading, then it is certainly possible.

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Blecher says staring at the sun without protective glasses can cause solar retinopathy, injuring the retina and potentially leading to vision loss.

Also, the moon's covering makes it less painful to look at the sun longer, OH optometrist Michael Schecter told USA Today, which he noted was part of the problem.

Unfortunately, there are no known treatments for solar retinopathy, Edmond said.

Monday's historic solar eclipse was a wonderful gift, a chance to experience something real, to come together with friends and strangers, to bask in our mortal humility.

"Photokeratitis is often called a "sunburn of the eye" and can be painful", Quinn said. If that happens, you need to get to an eye doctor to see if you damaged your retina.

Although Americans were anxious about vision loss directly after the eclipse, experts say that in many cases symptoms won't appear for several hours or a few days.


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