Eye Damage from the Solar Eclipse: Do Your Eyes Still Hurt?

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Many people have voiced on social media that their eyes are still hurting since watching the solar eclipse? Even those who wore the proper eyewear are complaining their eyes are sore.

So, how can you tell if you’ve had eye damage from the eclipse? Symptoms of eye damage listed by NASA include “blurred vision, dark or yellow spots, pain, or loss of vision in the center of the eye.” Because there are no pain sensors in the actual eye damage can only be detected once it occurs.

And, while eye damage doesn’t necessarily make you blind, it does affect your central vision, which results in blurred or spotty eyesight. If you have damage to your eye, you should see signs within a few hours or by the next day. Even so, some damage may occur down the line, later in your life.

Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, an ophthalmologist with the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai Hospital, told CNN that there have been patients coming to the hospital, complaining of headaches and subjective blurry vision. Deobhakta noted:

Sun exposure can cause damage to many structures in the eye. While we normally focus on the retinal damage that can happen, in some cases, people can suffer from light sensitivity and pain due to corneal damage … If you feel that your headaches and nausea are associated with visual changes, such as blurriness while reading, then it is certainly possible. In addition, if you are experiencing light sensitivity, that could also be a sign that your eyes have been affected. If someone believes they had accidental exposure to the sun during an eclipse, they should immediately make an appointment with their doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye exam to ensure there is no serious damage.

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Looking at the sun directly can also cause solar retinopathy, which is retinal damage from exposure to solar radiation. There is no known treatment for this. Photokeratitis, or ultraviolet keratitis, can also occur, which CNN reports is temporary. Dr. Christopher Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association, says that:

Photokeratitis is often called a ‘sunburn of the eye’ and can be painful. Its symptoms include red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing … It is very painful and feels like a corneal abrasion or scratch on the eye. It usually goes away in one or two days and does not lead to permanent vision loss.

According to the NY Times, if you are feeling pain in the eye, you most likely don’t have permanent damage. However, if you have symptoms of eye damage, you should seek help from an eye doctor or health professional.

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