How to tell if the eclipse damaged your eyes

Posted August 24, 2017

Prof. Chou explained that long-term damage from a solar eclipse is very rare and occurs under certain conditions.

Astronomers, scientists and doctors in advance of the eclipse recommended finding ways to protect the eye from potential harm: wearing protective glasses, creating pinhole projectors or using binoculars backwards to project the sun's image onto a surface. Most reports say looking at the eclipse for a split-second may be fine, but 10 to 20 seconds is pushing it. This can cause eye pain and light sensitivity, with symptoms often occurring within 24 hours after exposure.

From Oregon to SC, people donned specially-designed glasses that allowed them to witness the celestial event without the harmful effects of the sun's damaging rays.

"If you have a solar retinopathy or sun burn to the macular, you'll notice that the vision will start to diminish; the second day you'll have a black spot in front of you that is not going away", Dr. Pang said.

"In general, damage from the sun to the retina is permanent", Deobhakta said.

Dr. Crist also says if you think your vision was affected, don't be hesitant to call an eye doctor. If that happens, you need to get to an eye doctor to see if you damaged your retina. You can relieve the effects of photokeratitis by placing a cold washcloth over your eyes, use artificial tear drops and take pain relievers, if necessary.

And don't feel bad if you did sneak a peek at the eclipse.

A woman watches the eclipse from an Adler Planetarium parking lot.

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Direct exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation even for a fraction of a minute can be enough to overwhelm the photoreceptor cells lining the back of the eye.

Vision can be restored over several months to a year, but in 50% of cases, vision loss is permanent.

Visit a local eye care professional for an exam if you or a family member experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse.

He said you can also print off an Amsler Grid.

Missy Guyer, office manager at Midwest Eye Consultants, said that while the office received a flood of phone calls Tuesday from people looking for eclipse-proof glasses, she hasn't talked with anyone anxious about eye damage.

If you're feeling a little weird - some people have posted on social media about having headaches and nausea - after looking at the eclipse, it could be a sign of something else.

Those affected might experience fogged or distorted vision, light sensitivity, central blindness or see afterimages, the doctors warned.