Worried You Hurt Your Eyes Watching The Eclipse? You’re Not Alone. Here’s How to Tell
Eyesight related searches spiked right after the eclipse.
It came, we saw, we aw-ed.
It’s the day after the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse made its way from Oregon to South Carolina, and the sight of it is one most of us aren’t likely to forget. But there’s another lasting effect of viewing an eclipse that’s less magical, and according to Google search trends, it’s one many Americans are worried about.
“Eclipse blindness” can be caused by staring directly into the sun without the proper protection, a frightening fact that resulted in many retailers selling out of eclipse glasses in the week leading up to the celestial event. But not everybody played it safe.
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According to Business Insider, on Monday afternoon around 3 p.m. ET—right around the time the eclipse passed over the east coast—search terms related to vision problems spiked in popularity. People were reportedly searching "my eyes hurt," "vision loss," and "I can't see" — signaling that many spectators didn’t wear the appropriate eyewear.
So how do you know whether or not you fried your poor peepers? As Ralph Chou, O.D., professor emeritus of optometry and vision science at the University of Waterloo, explained to NPR, viewers wouldn’t know whether or not they did damage until the next morning. “It takes at least 12 hours before we can tell if anything has happened. The thing is, if people just saw the sun briefly without a protective filter — just a fraction of a second — the chances they've hurt themselves are very low,” noted Chou.
If you did manage to damage your retinas, according to Chou, telltale signs would include blurred vision, or spots of missing vision. In other cases, abnormal colors, visual distortions and sensitivity to light could mean you’ve done a number on your eyes. Luckily, these symptoms usually improve within a few months.
Still worried? See your optometrist, and next time wear those darn glasses y'all!