Stared at the Eclipse? Here’s How to Tell If You Ruined Your Eyes Forever

An eye-care expert talks about the potential damage your vision may have suffered from looking at the eclipse without proper protection.

eclipse times square
Image via Getty/DON EMMERT/AFP
eclipse times square

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:

what happens when u look at the eclipse for too long #SolarEclispe2017

— Rocco Fiore (@rfiore14) August 21, 2017

Or this dude:

.@OBJ_3 probably gonna be out 6-8 weeks after staring into the sun 😂

— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) August 21, 2017

Or this dude:

WASHINGTON, August 21, 2017 -- President Donald Trump looks directly into the solar eclipse.

— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) August 21, 2017

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.

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.

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