Eclipse 2024: Data Shows Sadly Predictable Increase in Google Searches About Eye Damage

The next chance for total solar eclipse action in the contiguous United States won't be until 2044.

Person holding eclipse glasses with nature backdrop, preparing for solar viewing
Image via Getty/Noam Galai
Person holding eclipse glasses with nature backdrop, preparing for solar viewing

Have memes taught us nothing?

Judging by Google Trends data, it appears a number of hopeful total solar eclipse enjoyers went against widely shared vision advice by raw-dogging the event and then immediately regretting and/or questioning their decision to do so. Phrases such as "looked at eclipse," "hurt eyes," "looked at sun," and related variations all showed similarly timed spikes on April 8.

Graph showing search term trends: "looked at eclipse," "hurt eyes," "looked at sun" with a spike

As others have pointed out, including USA Today, a deeper dive into grim Googlings, especially when broken down by metro areas, shows the eclipse's main path of visibility is well-represented.

Naturally, the eclipse failed to stand as the top daily search trend in the United States on Monday, having been bested by Morgan Wallen allegedly throwing a chair from the roof of a six-story bar in Nashville. However, it held strong at No. 2 thanks to people searching for info on the next eclipse; deeper into the top 10, trends were spurred by people confused as to whether they could take photos of the eclipse and those uncertain about its timing in their respective region.

For those genuinely concerned about the admitted eye-related fuckeries, the San Francisco-based American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that actual damage eclipse-caused damage to the eyes is "unlikely to cause pain or discomfort" due to the retina's lack of pain nerves. However, visual symptoms can show up as soon as four hours later.

As for treatment for this type of injury, formally known as solar retinopathy and possibly permanent in some cases, no such thing exists. Those concerned about possible eye damage should consult a medical professional.

In the future, let's leave the dumbassery to the dumbasses. The next chance to avoid possible eye damage in a total solar eclipse in the contiguous U.S. is slated for 2044.

Latest in Life