How to Know If the Solar Eclipse Damaged Your Eyes
On Monday, millions of Americans from coast to coast stopped what they were doing to look up into the sky and witness the truly magical solar eclipse.
From Oregon to South Carolina, people donned specially-designed glasses that allowed them to witness the celestial event without the harmful effects of the sun’s damaging rays. However, there were a few among the crowd who apparently didn’t heed the plethora of warnings from scientists and doctors saying to never, ever look directly into the sun during an eclipse, and those people included President Donald Trump.
Related: When Is the Next Eclipse?
As People reported, the president along with his wife Melania and their 11-year-old son Barron came out onto the Truman Balcony at the White House to see the event for themselves. At first the president put on his eclipse glasses, but then he made the mistake of removing them for a quick glimpse with the naked eye.
“As he did this, someone in a crowd of aides below shouted ‘Don’t look,’” according to the Wall Street Journal‘s Ted Mann, who shared a photo of the very moment on Twitter.
So what if you made the same mistake as Trump and looked up with your unprotected eyes?
“It is unsafe for anyone to look directly at the sun for any length of time or during an eclipse, as damage can occur within seconds of exposure,” Dr. Linda Chous, chief eye care officer for UnitedHealthcare, told NBC. “The sun is incredibly bright – some 400,000 times brighter than a full moon. Any amount of exposure can cause short-term and long-term damage.”
Chous added that if you looked at the sun without glasses in the short-term you may experience what is known as “solar keratitis,” which is similar to sunburn of the cornea (the front part of the eye), and can cause eye pain and light sensitivity, with symptoms often occurring within 24 hours of exposure.
Over time you may also experience “solar retinopathy,” which Chous explained is when the sun burns a hole in the retinal tissues. This can cause loss of central vision, “with symptoms occurring immediately to two weeks after exposure. Depending on the severity of the retinopathy, vision problems can last for months or be permanent.”
If you feel as though you may be experiencing any of these symptoms, Chous noted that you should immediately visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive exam. She added, “It is important to note there can be a delayed response to any damage incurred during an eclipse, with symptoms showing up hours later.”
A little aloe simply won’t soothe this burn.