Did You Damage Your Eyes Viewing The Eclipse? Here’s How To Tell
Millions across America watched the total or partial solar eclipse on Monday, but not everyone heeded eye-safety advice.
“After the solar eclipse, we have already seen dozens of patients with concerns ranging from headaches to subjective blurry vision,” noted Dr. Avnish Deobhakta. He’s an ophthalmologist at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York City.
Ideally, eclipse viewers shouldn’t have taken any direct look at the sun. They should have used specially designed and filtered glasses instead.
But in case that advice was forgotten, here’s how to spot if you or a loved one got an unhealthy eyeful of the sun’s rays.
According to Deobhakta, “some of the symptoms include blurry vision, ‘holes’ or ‘spots’ in vision, light sensitivity, or infrequently, pain. You should also be concerned if you are experiencing persistent blurry vision, light sensitivity, pain or headaches since viewing the eclipse.”
Direct viewing of the sun can damage the cornea, too, he said.
“If you are having blurry vision, you may have retinal damage,” Deobhakta noted. “However, if you are experiencing light sensitivity or headaches, you may have corneal damage. In either case, you should see a trained ophthalmologist as soon as possible.”
He stressed that any vision damage identified by an eye specialist today may not last forever.
Most patients his team has seen so far “have not had any permanent issues,” Deobhakta said. But “a few have been found to have some retinal changes which will require monitoring,” he said.
“In particular, the retina can become chemically ‘burned’ in areas where most of the sun’s rays are focused,” Deobhakta explained. “Given the way the eye is shaped, most of those rays are focused precisely in the location of the retina that is used for everyday precise vision, like reading or using the computer. As a result, any chemical damage to these areas of the retina can result in permanent blurry vision.”
Unfortunately, this kind of retinal injury isn’t treatable, he added.
“There isn’t much a patient can do on his or her own to ‘fix’ this retinal damage: The important thing is to determine if damage has occurred in the first place, which can only be done using the tools in a trained ophthalmologist’s office,” Deobhakta said.