Seriously, Do Not Look Up At the Sun During the Solar Eclipse

Ken Copeland
August 24, 2017

Monday's historic solar eclipse was a wonderful gift, a chance to experience something real, to come together with friends and strangers, to bask in our mortal humility. "This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain".

During the eclipse, one of the most important observations was of the sun's corona, the sun's thin, outer atmosphere that's only visible during total eclipses.

There's a similar phenomenon known as laser retinopathy, which often happens when kids shine lasers in people's eyes, he said.

The retina is the third inner layer of the eye - it's the light-sensitive part that helps your eye develop and project an image of the world as you look at it. So, while we'd recommend those of you complaining about eye pain to go see a doctor, pain isn't a good indicator of whether you've experienced retina damage. Business Insider reports that discomfort could be due to the rapidly changing light levels you experienced as you covered and uncovered your eyes repeatedly to view the eclipse. UV radiation from the sun temporarily damages the topmost layer of the cornea, called the epithelium. Here's how to know whether you or a child has damage. "However, if you are experiencing light sensitivity or headaches, you may have corneal damage". Still, even some patients with normal vision in an eye test had subtle eye symptoms, such as a small blind spot in their vision. "While most patients have not had any permanent issues, a few have been found to have some retinal changes, which will require monitoring". While the damage already done is permanent in many cases, eye doctors can try to use strong magnifiers and other devices to compensate for the loss of vision, she said.

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Unfortunately, this kind of retinal injury isn't treatable, he added. "But an eclipse is a little more damaging".

The total eclipse - the first in almost a century to stretch across the continental United States - was seen in 14 states, from OR to SC.

And guess what? All these searches are coming out of North America, aka eclipse central.

There's no amount of time that's considered "safe" to look at the sun without proper eye protection, said Dr. Neil Bressler, a professor of ophthalmology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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