In the wake of Monday’s solar eclipse, some people are wondering where their eyes have suffered damage from viewing the event. Scientists and medical professionals warned that staring directly at the sun without protective glasses – even for a moment – could cause permanent damage to retinas.
“Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality,” NASA wrote on a website regarding how to view the solar eclipse safely.
The human eye cannot see infrared light coming from the sun, but it can cause irreparable damage. Since the retina does not have pain receptors, people do not feel the damage occurring. The infrared light does not literally burn the eye, but rather the light stimulation induces harmful chemical changes to the eye, said Dr. Stanley Chang, a professor of ophthalmology at Columbia University, who was quoted by The New York Times.
Some possible side effects of eye damage from the sun include blurriness, a blind spot in your central vision, a decrease in vision (inability to read), or distortion of lines, reported the New York Times.
There are no real at-home remedies for this eye damage, and if you think you have it, the best measure would be to see an eye doctor. One thing you can do before doing so would be to download an Amsler Grid eye test. To take the test, focus on the center dot in the grid. If any of the lines appear either missing or wavy, this may be an indicator you need to have your eyes checked by a professional.
For those who did acquire a pair of solar eclipse glasses and are now wondering what to do with them, one option would be to save them for an upcoming eclipse. For those who don’t want to hold onto the glasses, Astronomers Without Borders will be collecting eclipse glasses donations to distribute to schools in countries where future eclipses will be viewed.