SPOKANE, Wash. -- Monday’s total solar eclipse was viewed by thousands throughout the Inland Northwest.
During past eclipses, people who looked at the sun without proper eyewear experienced lifelong eye damage. Some viewers of Monday’s eclipse said they are worried about vision loss too and asked how you would know if the eclipse damaged your eyes.
Doctor Matt Weed with the Spokane Eye clinic said if you damaged your eyes from looking at the eclipse, you would notice it right away.
“Patients that have symptoms just in one eye won’t notice it because their other eye vision is normal and with both eyes open that better eye is compensating for the weaker eye,” Weed said.
He said you can test your vision by looking through one eye at a time. If you are seeing blurriness or reduced vision, Dr. Weed said this is a symptom of a condition called solar retinopathy.
“It’s an ultra violet light burn of the retina, the inner lining of the back of the eye. It’s the thing that we fear when people are exposed to a lot of bright light,” Weed explained.
Adults are not the only ones that could have damaged their eyes Monday. Children were looking up at the sun as well. Without proper eye protection, Dr. Weed said they would have the same symptoms as adults. He added if you believe your child may have damage, it is best to schedule an eye exam.
While this is a serious condition, Dr. Weed said it is not one that is emergent because there is not a specific treatment.
“The treatment is watching and waiting,” said Weed. “It can take anywhere from three to six months for the vision to improve. It may improve some or stay at its current level. It’s one of those things where only time will tell.”
Dr. Weed said the Spokane Eye clinic has seen an increase in phone traffic after the solar eclipse and said if anyone has concerns with their vision, they should schedule an eye exam with their doctor to be properly diagnosed.