How to recognize eye damage from the eclipse

Doctor: "If you had the proper eye wear on, you shouldn’t be affected by it."

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – East Tennessee was sent into darkness for the total solar eclipse on Monday. Many people listened to their doctors and wore proper eye protection to view the astronomical event. But others took a chance, looking up at the sun with a naked eye.

“Some people notice changes in their vision like blurred vision right away, some people several hours later, sometimes it’s a couple days after,” optometrist Dr. Blake Rust said. “It’s not always an immediate thing.”

Some of those people are left wondering if the exposure caused long-term damage to their eyes.

If you wore proper eye protection and followed the rules while viewing the eclipse, Dr. Rust said you are likely okay.

“Glancing at it for a second shouldn’t affect you that much, but if you stared at it for long periods of time, then absolutely, the risk is there for damage,” Rust said.

Dr. Rust with the Eye Group said he has talked with a number of people on Tuesday concerned about their vision.

“The phones have definitely been ringing,” he said. “I actually had a patient come in today who was wearing the proper eyewear but looking through a telescope to get a better view of it and it actually burned a hole through the eclipse glasses. That’s how powerful the sun is.”

Dr. Rust said though some eye damage is reversible, other damage is permanent.

“If anyone’s noticing any blurred vision, dimming of vision, or a central blind spot in their eye, definitely call an optometrist and have them take a look because it’s definitely something they will want to have monitored,” Dr. Rust said.

If you wore proper eye protection and followed the rules while viewing the eclipse, Dr. Rust said you are likely okay. However, if you ran the risk, your eyes could pay the price.

“I definitely think we will be getting a lot more calls,” Dr. Rust said.

Some common signs and symptoms to look out for are blurred vision, dimming of the vision, and in extreme cases, a blind spot in the middle of the eye.

Dr. Rust said when it comes to your eyes, you can never be too cautious, so if you are noticing changes in your vision, it is wise to see a medical professional.

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