August 22, 2017 11:02 am
Updated: August 22, 2017 12:40 pm

How to tell if the solar eclipse damaged your eyes

WATCH: If you watched the solar eclipse without any protective glasses like Donald Trump Monday, here's what to look for.


The 2017 solar eclipse wowed millions of people across North America Monday, as the moon blotted out the sun for the first time in nearly a century in parts of the continent.

But despite the warnings to protect eyes, many watchers may have glanced at the sun without wearing proper safety glasses — even if was only for a brief moment.

READ MORE: Solar eclipse 2017: Can you really go blind if you stare at the event?

Even U.S. President Donald Trump was photographed apparently looking at the eclipse without eye protection.

Looking directly at the eclipse can cause serious damage to the retina — a condition known as solar retinopathy. Since our retinas don’t have pain receptors like the rest of our body, it’s impossible to feel how bad the damage is.

Since Monday’s solar eclipse, a Vancouver optometrist told Global News she has already received a spike in calls from people complaining of eye pain.

If you did steal unprotected glances of the eclipse and are experiencing discomfort, you may be wondering whether you have caused long-term damage.

How long before you know?

It can take about 12 hours before you may notice changes in your vision, according to Dr. Kirsten North with the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

“This is because the damage causes a chemical reaction, which takes time to damage the cell,” she said.


North said the symptoms may vary, depending if you “glanced” at the solar eclipse, or looked at it for a long period of time. “A quick glance is unlikely to cause lasting injury,” she added.

READ MORE: Here’s why you shouldn’t peer at your smartphone in the dark with one eye closed

But some of the symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • One or more spots where vision is missing in one or both eyes.
  • Increased sensitivity to light.
  • Distorted vision.

What should you do?

People who experience discomfort or vision problems after the eclipse should visit an optometrist for an eye exam, North said.

WATCH: Global News Morning featured on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver over eclipse viewing

“You should be honest to the optometrist about looking at the eclipse,” she said.

If you see an eye doctor right away your chances of recovering are higher, but the longer you wait, the harder it is to recover your vision, North added.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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