Identifying eclipse-related eye damage

Lee Cooper, from England, wears his protective glasses to watch the beginning of the solar eclipse from Salem, Ore., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – We’ve all been warned about the dangers of watching the eclipse with the naked eye. If you looked at the sun on Monday without the proper eye gear, your eyesight could be at risk.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Daniel Straka said ISO certified eye protection is crucial to prevent long-term damage to your eyes, if you’re going to look directly at the sun. But, if you took a peek at the eclipse without them, you could have temporary or even permanent damage to your eyes.

“There’s a condition called solar retinopathy and basically what that is is when the light and energy from the sun hits the back of the eye, it can damage the cells in the back of the eye called the retina,” said Dr. Straka.

He said most damage to the eye is only temporary and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. However, some damage is irreversible.

“There are a number of people who will have permanent damage. That damage can be mild blurring of the vision, loss of some of your central vision and even blind spots in your vision,” said Dr. Straka. “Unfortunately, there’s no known treatment to try to reverse some of those changes.”

He said prolonged, extended viewing of the sun or the eclipse is more likely to cause damage.

“Immediately after doing so, you’re probably going to have some changes in your vision: after images, some darkening of the vision and that can take some time, a few days to a few weeks to get better,” said Dr. Straka.

If you believe you have eye damage and your vision doesn’t get better after 24 hours, seek the advice of your ophthalmologist or eye doctor.