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Eye doctors see increase in calls after solar eclipse despite warnings

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Posted at 1:36 PM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 13:36:31-04

Whether it was from mom or the media, we heard the warnings over and over again about protecting our eyes during Monday’s solar eclipse. But not everyone listened to the warnings.

               

"We had people calling because they either decided to take a glance at it and looked too long, or we had one gentleman whose glasses fell off and he was concerned,” explained Michelle Nelson with the Cleveland Eye Clinic.

 

“Others had used regular sunglasses or glasses that weren't approved," Nelson further explained.

 

Nelson said they had a jump in calls almost immediately after the eclipse started.

 

"They were feeling sensitive to light,” she noted. “Some were seeing spots or described feeling an odd sensation in their eyes."

 

So, how do you know if you need to be concerned? Staring at the sun can cause something called "solar retinopathy" -- basically a sunburn on the retina -- which is a layer of tissue in the back of your eye.

               

Symptoms include the center of your vision turning into a grey or black spot, blurry vision, color distortion and blind spots. It can take 24 hours or even longer for symptoms to show up, and that damage can be permanent.

 

"For those who just glanced briefly, they are likely transient changes that will affect them temporarily and resolve on their own but for others, that damage will be permanent,” Nelson said. “Only a doctor will be able to distinguish between the two.”

If you are experiencing any abnormal symptoms, Nelson says you should get an eye exam.