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Your Healthy Family: The eye damage that happens from looking directly at the sun

The tricky part about diagnosing at this point is that the only symptom or warning sign someone will have is trouble with their vision. The tricky part about diagnosing at this point is that the only symptom or warning sign someone will have is trouble with their vision.
COLORADO SPRINGS -

Here's to hoping you enjoyed Monday's solar eclipse in some way.  Certainly there were all kinds of warnings ahead of the eclipse, stressing the importance of protecting your vision from the sun's powerful rays during the celestial event.

Dr. Richard Davidson with the UCHealth Eye Center says, for anyone who may have looked directly at the eclipse without safety precaution the damage is likely done.

“What we worry about year is damage to the retina.  The retina is in the back of the eye, and as light goes into the eyes it gets focused on the retina and that's how we see.  The retina is a very fancy nerve and it acts like the film to a camera, and once it senses light hitting it, it sends a message through the optic nerve, to the brain to allow us to see.  The problem is, if there is nerve damage from direct sunlight there's no way for the retina nerves to regenerate, so the result is permanent vision loss.”

What kind of vision loss are we talking about specifically?  Dr. Davidson explains it like this.

“The type of vision loss we're talking about is not permanent blindness in the sense that you would lose all your vision.  You would lose a portion of your central vision and depending on how long you stared at the sun would determine how much you lost.  What would happen with this type of vision loss is you would see that something right in the center of your vision would be missing.  It would look either black, or it would be completely out of focus.  You would still be able to see that something's there, but you wouldn't be able to resolve it.”

The tricky part about diagnosing at this point is that the only symptom or warning sign someone will have is trouble with their vision.

“They're not going to complain of anything from a pain perspective, however they may notice an changes in their vision.  Unfortunately if someone has damage to the retina, there's nothing we can do to repair the damage.  An eye exam would really be more for diagnostic purposes.  If you're concerned that your child or someone you know  may have looked at the eclipse directly without proper eye protection, it’s important to have it checked by an eye care provider.”

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