Think You Hurt Your Eyes Watching the Eclipse?
By Susanne Medeiros
Aug. 22, 2017
Google says the search terms “eyes hurt” and “eye damage” peaked yesterday afternoon after the solar eclipse, suggesting that not everyone heeded warnings about looking at the eclipse without safety glasses.
Ophthalmologists — physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care — have been on alert. But so far, there have been no documented cases of people suffering vision loss from yesterday’s eclipse. Nathan E. Podoll, MD, says Vanderbilt Eye Institute set up a triage area to see patients with solar retinopathy or damage to the eye’s retina. While 10 patients came in concerned about their eyes, none showed visual issues related to the eclipse.
If your eyes feel a little funny after the eclipse, it may not be a sign of solar retinopathy. Damage from the eclipse is unlikely to cause pain or discomfort in your eyes because the retina does not have any pain nerves. Instead, you would notice visual symptoms within four to six hours. But some may notice symptoms after 12 hours.
If you are concerned that you may have sustained damage, either because you unknowingly used unsafe solar eclipse glasses or because you sneaked a peak like President Trump, here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Blurry vision
- A blind spot in your central vision in one or both eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Distorted vision, in which a straight line looks bent, or a door jamb looks curvy
- Changes in the way you see color, known as "dyschromatopsia"
There is no treatment for solar retinopathy. But it is important to see your ophthalmologist if you experience difficulties with your vision. An ophthalmologist will take a scan of the eye to see the extent of any damage. Many people recover after three to six months, but some will suffer from permanent vision loss, in the form of a small blind spot and distortion.