If you looked, did you damage your eyes during the eclipse?

August 22, 2017 08:57 AM

Some people who even took a glimpse of the solar eclipse are complaining of eye strain. Those in the know say that damage from viewing a solar eclipse can take days to manifest.

Many have been searching the internet for advice: "Google" trends has shown a sharp uptick in searches for phrases like "solar eclipse headache," "solar eclipse blind," "eyes hurt," "seeing spots," and "accidentally looked at eclipse."

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Experts warn that staring into a solar eclipse for even just a few seconds could result in permanent blurry vision or blindness. That's because the dark moon crossing over the sun essentially cancels out the normal burning sensation that makes people look away from bright light.

Symptoms that suggest short-term damage include eye pain and light sensitivity, often occurring within 24 hours of exposure. Long-term symptoms include a loss of central vision - including a dark spot or hole in vision - which could crop up anytime in the next two weeks.

A 2001 study looked at 45 British patients who looked at a 1999 solar eclipse. While 20 patients claimed symptoms of affected vision, just five showed damage on their retinas. All five looked at the eclipse for 18 seconds or longer.

If you're concerned, check with your eye doctor.


WNYT Staff

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