Doctors Treating People Who Viewed Eclipse With Naked Eye - NBC Bay Area
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Doctors Treating People Who Viewed Eclipse With Naked Eye

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The eclipse is over, but for some it may be having lasting, unwanted effects. Jean Elle reports. (Published Monday, Aug. 21, 2017)

    The eclipse is over, but for some it may be having lasting, unwanted effects.

    Eye doctors are hearing from patients who didn't use the required solar viewing glasses while checking out the show in the sky Monday. And experts warned that sneaking a peek with the naked eye can cause permanent damage.

    Millions of people across the U.S. watched daylight fade as the moon blocked the sun Monday. While most watched the celestial show with special viewing glasses, some took a chance without protection. Even President Donald Trump sneaked a glimpse before putting his solar glasses on.

    "The natural reaction is to look up," said Dr. Vincent Penza of City Optometry, who added that he sees patients complaining of discomfort or vision issues after every eclipse. "If you're having light sensitivity, watery eyes, still have after-image like a flash bulb, then you should call someone."

    In San Francisco, three people went to City Optometry after looking at the eclipse. Penza said the most common problem, sunburned cornea, is treatable. But a person's retina can suffer permanent damage if it is exposed to too much sunlight. It's called solar retinopathy.

    "When you look at the sun now, it's uncomfortable, can't stare at it very long," Penza said. "When it's an eclipse, there's less of that, and the retina doesn't have pain receptors."

    Solar retinopathy can cause blurry vision or vision loss, Penza said. Some symptoms can take as long as 12 hours to appear. Medical professionals advise those who are experiencing any type of vision issues after viewing the eclipse to get their eyes checked thoroughly.

    Penza said he wouldn't be surprised if he hears from additional eclipse watchers Tuesday.

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