- Mere hours after Monday's solar eclipse ended, the patients began lining up at hospitals across America.
- If you viewed the eclipse with anything but safety-certified glasses (look for the ISO 12312-2), or nothing at all, definitely schedule a checkup, Deobhakta said.
- Just a few seconds of viewing the sun could cause retina damage.
Mere hours after Monday's solar eclipse ended, the patients began lining up at hospitals across America.
In California, emergency physician Aimee Moulin treated a fractured foot on someone who fell off a step while wearing dark eclipse glasses.
In North Carolina, where the eclipse's path ended, emergency physician Bret Nicks' E.R. treated sprains, strains, lacerations and wrist fractures on eclipse viewers so intent on looking up that they failed to pay attention to their earthly surroundings.
And then, of course, there were patients with potential eye injuries like those at Mount Sinai's New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in New York City. "Dozens," said Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, who saw once-happy sky gazers citing headaches and blurry vision. Deobhakta, an ophthalmologist, saw eclipse viewers at his personal clinic, too.
He guessed that many New Yorkers heard you could view at a total eclipse without eye protection, but didn't understand that only applied to places in the path of totality. (New York wasn't one of them.) Others, he said, built last-minute pinhole projectors and looked through the pinhole at the sun. (That's not how those work.)
Only a few showed signs of actual retina damage, he said, which can prove irreversible. Other patients, perhaps worried over reports of eclipse damage, visited out of an abundance of caution, he said.
"I do think there's an element of the power of suggestion," Deobhakta said, "that now that I have blurry vision —I may have had some before —now I'll go see the doctor after the eclipse."
If you viewed Monday's eclipse and now wonder whether you should seek care, Deobhakta offered a few points to consider.
"If you were wearing standard (eclipse) glasses, I don't think you should come in unless you develop persistent symptoms that aren't abating," he said.
Those symptoms include light sensitivity, blurry vision or "holes" in one's sight. Such symptoms of damage won't kick in until perhaps 12 or even 48 hours after viewing the solar eclipse, Deobhakta said.
(If you felt eye discomfort shortly after the eclipse but not today, you're likely fine, he said: "I think that's very temporary and every patient that feels that, for the most part, feels OK today.")
If you viewed the eclipse with anything but safety-certified glasses (look for the ISO 12312-2), or nothing at all, definitely schedule a checkup, Deobhakta said. Just a few seconds of viewing the sun could cause retina damage.
"We'll never discourage anyone from being cautious," he said.
—Ashley May contributed to this report.