Urgent care centers tell Moneyish they’re seeing people with eclipse headaches and blurry vision – but it could’ve been much worse.
The Great American Eclipse may be over, but the afterimages live on thanks to social media – and spectators like President Donald J. Trump who looked up at the sun sans safety glasses.
Although health experts warned not to look at Monday’s solar eclipse without eclipse-viewing glasses – or a pinhole projector, or camera/binoculars fitted with solar filters – the commander-in-chief was snapped staring at it with his naked eyes.
(The White House hasn’t responded to Moneyish about whether the presidential peepers are OK, although he made his presidential address on Monday night without incident.)
Someone shouts "don't look" when Pres. Trump glances at the sky without eclipse glasses as the solar eclipse passes over Washington, D.C. pic.twitter.com/TtyfpQYvmr
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 21, 2017
New York Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. also appeared to stare at the eclipse. Beckham also seemed all right, joking on Instagram that, “Even after looking at the eclipse, I still can see all these haters.”
So what’s the big deal? Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, an ophthalmologist at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, told Moneyish that the retinas can become chemically ‘burned’ in areas where most of the sun’s rays are focused during an eclipse. And those burns can create blind spots or blurred vision in the part of your eye used for every-day precise vision, like reading or using a computer.
Studies report that about half of people with this solar retinopathy recover, usually within a year, but there’s still a chance that your vision will become permanently blurred. Victims can also go colorblind.
“We have already seen dozens of patients with concerns ranging from headaches to subjective blurry vision,” following Monday’s eclipse, Dr. Deobhakta told Moneyish on Tuesday. “While most patients have not had any permanent issues, a few have been found to have some retinal changes which will require monitoring.”
Dr. Frank Illuzzi, chief medical officer at CityMD, which runs 74 urgent care centers across New York City, New Jersey and Long Island, as well as Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, said they’ve only got two reported cases of eye injuries from the eclipse so far – which is much better than they feared. Emergency rooms and departments were bracing for thousands of cases, but it looks like most of the Americans got the memo – even if their president didn’t.
As for the two patients with eclipse eye injuries, “the subjects are suffering headache symptoms, a little eye soreness and difficulty making out shapes,” Dr. Illuzzi told Moneyish. “In both cases, they were deliberately trying to peek up directly at the sun.”
Everyone's googling "my eyes hurt" today pic.twitter.com/KJ0S5je7sX
— Gene Park (@GenePark) August 21, 2017
A lot of people complained about eclipse headaches, actually. Searches for “accidentally looked at eclipse,” “solar eclipse headache,” “seeing spots,” and “eyes hurt” all spiked, according to Google Trends, as viewers freaked out about whether they’d accidentally blinded themselves.
“There were a lot of reports of headaches actually, even those looking at the sun with the eclipse glasses on,” said Dr. Illuzzi. “Sunlight does bother some people’s eyes, even with sunglasses on. Or everyone’s necks were all craning up for so long, which might have something to do with it.”
Okay the #eclipse was very magical but also I'm now paranoid about my headache am I blind
— Brenna (@brennasherrill) August 21, 2017
PSA: Who else has a headache after that eclipse 😩
— Mariah (@WilleyMariah) August 21, 2017
Solar retinopathy usually shows itself within the first 12 hours, so if your vision is still fine now, you’re probably fine. But if you notice sensitivity to light, eye pain and loss of vision in one or both eyes over the next few days, or you experience visual disturbances like color distortion, afterimages or blindspots, go see an optometrist stat.
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