What To Do If You Think You Hurt Your Eyes During The Eclipse

What To Do If You Think You Hurt Your Eyes During The Eclipse

An eclipse is an incredible natural phenomenon that’s worth watching if you ever get the chance. It occurs when one celestial body moves into the shadow of another celestial body, blocking its light.

The most commonly observed eclipses on earth are solar and lunar eclipses. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the earth and sun, blocking all or part of the sun’s light. During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely covers the sun, causing darkness to fall on the earth in areas within the moon’s shadow.

How Solar Eclipses Can Be Dangerous Without Eye Protection

While it’s an unparalleled sight, a solar eclipse can actually be dangerous to look at directly without proper eye protection, as the intense light from the sun can cause damage to the eyes. Even though the sun is partially or mostly obscured during an eclipse, its rays can still be dangerous to the eyes.

Staring at the sun (during an eclipse or otherwise) can lead to a condition called solar retinopathy, which happens when damage to the retina is caused by exposure to solar radiation. This damage can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

To safely observe a solar eclipse, you should always use specially designed solar filters or eclipse glasses that meet international safety standards. These filters block out harmful ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radiation while allowing you to see the eclipse clearly and safely. Regular sunglasses are not sufficient for viewing a solar eclipse as they don’t provide adequate protection against the intense sunlight.

Signs You Hurt Your Eyes During the Eclipse

If you didn’t use eye protection during an eclipse, or you worry you stared at the sun for too long or the protection you had wasn’t adequate, there are signs to watch out for that can indicate you hurt your eyes.

If you feel off immediately after watching the eclipse, or have any pain or discomfort, it’s likely not solar retinopathy. There are no pain nerves in the retina, so solar retinopathy isn’t detectable through pain. Moreover, the symptoms can take a while to develop. Usually, it takes four to six hours for signs of solar retinopathy to appear, but it can also take up to 12 hours in some cases.

As the American Academy of Ophthalmology explains, symptoms of eye damage from the eclipse may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Distorted vision (straight lines may look bent)
  • A blind spot in your central vision (in one or both eyes)
  • Changes in the way you see colour (a condition called “dyschromatopsia”)

How to Treat Eyes That Were Damaged in the Eclipse

Unfortunately, there’s no solution for solar retinopathy. Treatment for this condition typically focuses on managing symptoms and supporting the healing process. Some common approaches can include:

  • Using eye drops
  • Avoiding further sun exposure
  • Getting adequate rest to promote healing
  • Wearing proper sunglasses when outdoors
  • Anti-inflammatory medications and/or corticosteroids
  • Using a cool compress (to alleviate inflammation and discomfort)
  • Visual rehabilitations (vision aids, vision therapy, or other rehab services may be required in severe cases

The treatment for solar retinopathy varies depending on the severity of the case and the needs of the individual person. If you believe you sustained damage to your eyes from an eclipse, or if you have any other concerns about your ocular health, we recommend making an appointment with an eye care professional.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to protecting your eyes during an eclipse. It can be a nuisance to wear eye protection (like solar filters or eclipse glasses) if you already wear glasses or contacts. But don’t let that stop you from taking all steps necessary to safeguard your eyes during an eclipse and other contexts, too.

If you’re tired of the hassle of glasses and contacts, consider a vision correction procedure. LASIK can provide clear vision without the need for glasses and lenses, giving you more freedom and convenience in your daily life. Think of all the activities clear vision can make easier, including watching the eclipse.

LASIK MD is the leading vision correction provider in Canada, with our surgeons having performed more than 2 million procedures. Allow us to get you on the path to clear vision with a free consultation. This is a chance to confirm your candidacy and have a personalized treatment plan recommended to you based on your visual needs.

Book a free consultation with LASIK MD today.