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  • Think You Hurt Your Eyes Watching the Eclipse?

    By Susanne Medeiros
    Published Apr. 20, 2023

    Google says search terms “eyes hurt” and “eye damage” peak after solar eclipses, suggesting that not everyone heeded warnings about looking at the eclipse without safety glasses.

    After the 2017 solar eclipse, ophthalmologists treated at least two patients for eye damage in the shape of a crescent that mirrored the eclipse itself.

    How do I know if I damaged my eyes during the eclipse?

    If your eyes feel a little funny after an 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.

    What are the symptoms of eye damage from an eclipse?

    If you are concerned that you may have sustained damage, here are some symptoms to look out for:

    • Blurry vision
    • Headache
    • 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"

    How is solar retinopathy treated?

    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.