If you happened to look up at the solar eclipse on Monday, then it's probably because you didn't read this article on Friday. Or because you had protective eyewear on. Or because, damn it, these things are rare, and it was worth the lifetime risk to catch a few seconds of something you don't see everyday.
While it doesn't seem particularly well thought out, some people did happen to go with that latter route. Like, for instance, this dude:
Or this dude:
Or this dude:
If you followed in their unadvisable footsteps, there's a chance you suffered some serious damage to your peepers. The eclipse is over, so you might be thinking, "Nope, got away with it. Eyes still working fine." According to Dr. Linda Chous, chief eye care officer for UnitedHealthcare, you might not be out of the woods just yet.
Since everyone already knew that people were going to look, regardless of repeated warnings from people who know what the hell they're talking about, Chous spoke to NBC beforehand about the possible consequences of staring directly into the sun. She addressed short-term and long-term problems, and touched on how long it may take before said problems start to manifest.
Here's what she had to say on the subject(s), which are relevant for the first time since... whenever the last eclipse was:
If you’ve looked at the eclipse without glasses, do you feel the adverse effects immediately or over time?
It is unsafe for anyone to look directly at the sun for any length of time or during an eclipse, as damage can occur within seconds of exposure. The sun is incredibly bright – some 400,000 times brighter than a full moon. Any amount of exposure can cause short-term and long-term damage.
If immediately, what are the signs?
Short-term issues can include solar keratitis, which is similar to sunburn of the cornea (the front part of the eye). This can cause eye pain and light sensitivity, with symptoms often occurring within 24 hours after exposure.
If over time, what are the things you should look for?
Long-term issues can include solar retinopathy, which is when the sun burns a hole in the retinal tissues, usually occurring at the fovea. This can cause loss of central vision, with symptoms occurring immediately to two weeks after exposure. Depending on the severity of the retinopathy, vision problems can last for months or be permanent.
How do you know if you might have damaged your retina/vision?
There are often no immediate signs of eye damage after viewing an eclipse without proper eye protection. Symptoms can occur immediately, within several hours or even weeks after exposure. Potential signs of damage include sensitivity to light, eye pain and loss of vision in one or both eyes.
She also answered the question of whether or not you can do anything now that you've already glanced up:
Is there anything you can do immediately following viewing without the glasses?
Visit a local eye care professional for a comprehensive exam if you or a family member experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse. It is important to note there can be a delayed response to any damage incurred during an eclipse, with symptoms showing up hours later.
Best of luck, y'all.