Why do your eyes hurt after watching the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017?
The first solar eclipse to spread across America in totality in 99 years occurred on August 21, 2017. Americans across the country waited and watched to see the eclipse in all its glory. Many people were emotionally touched to witness such natural power when the whole area around them went dark for a couple fleeting seconds. Still more, others were distressed when clouds threatened to cover their view! The crowds were still pleased to get mere glimpses of the eclipse as it was such a rare occurrence of our generation and probably much more to come.
Most people were prepared to watch the eclipse safely to avoid damaging their eyes. Protective glasses were sold almost everywhere in the days leading up to the eclipse, but some people did choose to use their own method to prevent eye damage. The dangers of this choice are probably apparent now in the following days post eclipse. If your eyes were damaged to any degree by the sun’s powerful rays, here’s what you may be feeling:
- A blind spot in your central vision in one or both eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Changes in the way you see color
- A decrease in vision
- Distortion (a straight line looks curved now.)
If you damaged your eyes, you still will not feel pain. You damaged light-sensing nerves, not pain sensors. So, don’t expect to feel a burning sensation before you consider the possibility of eye damage. Although it may seem irrelevant, even the shortest amount of time spent looking into the sun puts you at risk of permanent retina damage, called retinopathy. The sun hurts the area on your retina that’s responsible for sharp, central vision.
What could happen to your retina? :
- Solar burn
- The sun could burn a hole into your retina
- The cells may have been killed by the intense power of the sun.
How soon will I be able to tell if there has been damage?
The symptoms of solar retinopathy can appear within hours of your exposure to the sun. The general amount of time it usually takes for the symptoms to occur is 12 hours according to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in the United Kingdom.
What do I do now?
Visit an eye doctor immediately if you think you may have experienced any damage from the eclipse. They will be able to access the damage, and prescribe the proper treatment. You should not risk the possibility of hurting your eyes more by attempting to treat yourself at home. There are no effective home remedies. If a hole has been burned through the retina, you can have surgery to close it, but that will not necessarily improve the symptoms, such as a blind spot. Unfortunately, if the cells in your retina die, they leave an empty space. Those cells don’t grow back. If you damage is minimal, there is a slight chance that your retina could repair itself. It can take up to 12 months to see any improvement.
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