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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With Monday’s solar eclipse being such a rare event, it may have been tempting to glance up at the sun. But if you did so without protective eyewear, even for just a few seconds, your vision could be permanently damaged, according to a local eye doctor.
“The amount of light is too intense for any eye,” Dr. Lory Snady-McCoy explained. “I’ve seen people legally blind because of it.”
Dr. Snady-McCoy is a retina specialist at the Rhode Island Eye Institute. She said she expects to receive some calls on Tuesday from people concerned about potential eye damage, especially after seeing reports of knock-off eclipse shades being sold.
“Even that little crescent is enough energy to damage your retina,” Snady-McCoy added. “It will cause a swelling and a burning of the retina and that will cause a scar.”
“The problem with the eclipse is you’re looking longer,” she added. “The longer the exposure, the more likely the damage.”
Snady-McCoy said anyone with eye damage from staring at the sun will notice a “gray spot” in their central vision.
“The gray spot will move with the eye movement,” she said. “They may have blurry vision, depending on how intense that burn was.”
If you see that gray spot, Snady-McCoy said to contact an eye doctor and be patient.
“Unfortunately, there is no treatment,” she said. “Cross your fingers, let time go by. It may take up to two months before it decreases.”
According to preventblindness.org, it could take a few hours or even a few days to realize damage has occurred.
With the next solar eclipse expected to be visible in New England in seven years, Snady-McCoy advised to simply watch the footage on television or online to make sure your eyes are protected.