A week after the solar eclipse, there are tens of thousands of Google searches surrounding vision problems and eye pain related to viewing the eclipse. Even if you wore glasses, eye damage is possible. Here’s what to look out for.
Last Monday here in Southern California, we were treated to a celestial event that doesn’t happen too frequently: a total solar eclipse. Most people hopefully became aware that looking at the eclipse without special glasses on would be quite harmful to their vision; but alas, many more had ineffective glasses or still suffered negative effects from the viewing.
In the resulting days after the eclipse, Google searches for things like “eyes hurt after solar eclipse” and “vision problem after eclipse viewing” shot up into the tens of thousands. Unfortunately, it seems that large segments of the population are experiencing negative complications after the eclipse event, even if they attempted to follow all given advice regarding how to safely view it. The fovea, which is part of the eye’s retina, is an incredibly delicate part of your anatomy, and is easily burned when exposed to stimuli well outside what you might normally encounter in everyday life.
Headaches, nausea, and blurry vision are the most common effects reported from unhappy eclipse viewers. But it’s important to note that not all symptoms of eye damage make themselves known immediately after the damage occurs. Therefore, if you have noticed any problems with your vision (or any persisting other symptoms) since the eclipse, it might be time to come into urgent care to see what’s wrong. This might include localized eye pain, difficulty discerning color, “holes” in your vision, or loss of vision (especially in the center of your field of vision).
Although there are several different negative prognoses possible from sun exposure, one of the most common is photokeratitis — literally, a sunburn on your eye! If that sounds painful… it definitely is. But the good news is, photokeratitis hurts for a few days and goes away. On the other hand, solar retinopathy is a much more serious condition that can potentially manifest permanent vision damage.
Are you experiencing discomfort, symptoms, or vision changes since viewing the eclipse? If so, you’ll want to bite the bullet and go get your eyes checked out at urgent care or an optometrist as soon as possible to make sure it doesn’t get any worse.