Did you look at the solar eclipse too long? Doctors explain signs of eye damage

CBS News – Did you look up at the solar eclipse without your safety glasses?

Looking at the sun — even when it’s partially covered like during the eclipse on April 8 — can cause eye damage.

There is no safe dose of solar ultraviolet rays or infrared radiation, said Dr. Yehia Hashad, an ophthalmologist, retinal specialist and the chief medical officer at eye health company Bausch + Lomb.

“A very small dose could cause harm to some people,” he said. “That’s why we say the partial eclipse could also be damaging. And that’s why we protect our eyes with the partial as well as with the full sun.”

In some cases, the sun can also damage the cornea, which can be painful, Brinton says.

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“The good news is that this fully heals without lasting issues, so this is why we don’t think about this aspect as much. The retinal issues, on the other hand, are painless and can have permanent, lasting effects on vision,” he said.

What are other signs of eye damage from looking at a solar eclipse? Hashad says there are a few “alarming signals” to be aware of, including:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Scotomas, or dark spots: “You just see a black area or a black spot in the field of vision,” Hashad said.
  • Color changes: “You don’t see the colors the same way you were seeing it before,” he said.
  • Distorted lines: Hashad says this is clinically known as metamorphopsia, which makes lines appear warped, distorted or bent.

“This could be happening unilateral or bilateral,” he said. “So it doesn’t necessarily happen in both eyes. It could be affecting one over the other or both eyes together.”

Issues may not be apparent immediately, either, sometimes appearing one to a few days following the event.

And while some will regain normal visual function, sometimes the damage is permanent …

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