By: Lamar Greene
Throughout history, many civilizations have created myths and astrological calendars based around eclipses. And we, as humans, continue to be intrigued by eclipses. When NASA announced the locations across the United States that would be best for viewing the eclipse, people traveled as far west as Madras, Oregon and as far east as Columbia, South Carolina to ensure that they had the best view. People across the country hosted viewing parties and festivals for that moment when the Earth, moon, and sun were in perfect alignment.
Those concerned about public health and safety ensured that staying safe while viewing the eclipse was part of everyone’s preparation. NASA included how to view the eclipse safety as part of their Eclipse101 online information guide. A message from their website read, “The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as ‘eclipse glasses’ (example shown at left) or hand-held solar viewers.”
The concern from optometrists was certainly appropriate, seeing that many had complications with their vision and eye health in the weeks following the eclipse. Google searches for “my eyes hurt” and “eyes hurt eclipse” spiked immediately after the solar eclipse took place. Some people have been posting on social media that they are experiencing headaches and nausea after witnessing the solar eclipse, which could be a result from changes in vision. If someone thinks they have had accidental exposure to the sun during the eclipse, it is crucial to get a comprehensive eye exam to ensure that there is no permanent damage. Symptoms of eye damage can include blurry vision that doesn’t improve, difficulty identifying colors from one another, headache, sensitivity to light, pain, and more. Again, symptoms are not usually immediate and may have taken a couple of days to start.