How To Tell If Your Eyes Got Damaged During The Eclipse

I know, I know, we were all told not to look directly at the sun during Sacramento’s partial eclipse. But what if we just got a couple really quick glances while taking our glasses off/back on? What if you looked at the sun through your cell phone camera? We’ll help settle your nerves just below.

Michael Schecter, an optometrist, says that basically, “The sun isn’t more damaging to your eyes during a solar eclipse than on any other day. The moon’s covering makes it a lot less painful to look at it for a lot longer. That makes it tempting for folks to peer over their cardboard eclipse glasses to see what’s really going on.”

Questions and information about the eclipse and how it happens.

Another optometrist says that just a couple seconds likely won’t do any damage. Five seconds might be borderline, 10 seconds is too long, and 20 seconds is “definitely too long.” If the retina got damaged, you wouldn’t feel anything since there are no pain nerves on the retina. Retinas also aren’t self-healing like much of our body, so damage done in permanent. You wouldn’t know for a day or two after the damage was done until your vision started getting blurry. Once the eye is damaged, it might swell up which would cause the blurred vision, and it could take up to a year or more for the eye to return to normal, if it does at all.

In 2001, there was a study about the eclipse in the UK from 1999. 20 patients (just under half of those involved in the study) said their vision was affected after watching the eclipse. Only five of them had real damage on their retinas, and those five say they looked at the eclipse with their naked eyes for longer than 18 seconds.

What the eclipse looked like in Sacramento.

One way to check at home for vision issues is to look at yourself in the mirror, and cover each eye separately. If you notice any blurring or can’t see a section of reflection, ask your eye doctor. Also, you can print out what’s called at Amsler Grid. It’s just a grid with a dot, but depending on how the grid looks to your eye, you can figure out if your vision is damaged in some way.

If you watched the sun through your phone, you’re probably fine. Unless you kept glancing past your phone directly at the sun, the phone sort of acted as a filter, and the screen itself isn’t bright enough to do any damage.

Bottom line, if you still think your vision was damaged in some way by the eclipse yesterday, make an appointment at your optometrist, he or she can help you figure out what’s going on, and give you the concrete answer you need. We’re not doctors, we just gathered some info we found online to help you figure out how you should proceed.


More from Mark S. Allen In The Morning

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