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Woman Got Crescent Eye Damage After 'Great American Eclipse': Case Report

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A new case report describes a young woman's eye damage after the "Great American Total Solar Eclipse" last August. Imaging shows a crescent-shaped injury to the woman's eye resulting from direct sun-gazing.

Eclipse Eye Damage

Last Aug. 21, a young woman from New York was just one of many who witnessed the "Great American Total Solar Eclipse." According to the report, the woman peeked at the solar eclipse multiple times for about six seconds without solar eclipse glasses and again for 15 to 20 seconds with the glasses when the sun was just 70 percent covered by the moon. Merely four hours later, the woman began experiencing blurred vision and she also saw a black dot in her left eye. She visited a facility three days after the eclipse.

Using several imaging technologies, doctors were able to determine the damage in the woman's left eye and surmised that hers is perhaps the most severe damage they saw among the 22 patients who came in after the eclipse. As it turns out, the woman's left eye incurred solar retinopathy, which is an eye damage that results from direct sun-gazing. It is a condition which is most often reported after solar eclipse viewing.

Compared to the others whose symptoms have already subsided, the woman's normal vision still has not returned. A similar case was reported in Pennsylvania wherein a man looked at the eclipse without protection with just one eye.

"We were very surprised at how precisely concordant the imaged damage was with the crescent shape of the eclipse itself," said Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, a retina surgeon at Mount Sinai in New York and a coauthor of the report.

'Great American Total Solar Eclipse'

In the earlier months of 2017, many people were excited about what was dubbed as the "Great American Total Solar Eclipse." For months, people prepared to witness the one-of-a-kind natural wonder, with many even going to parts of the country where the solar eclipse can best be seen.

Along with the excitement and interest regarding the eclipse, many agencies also consistently warned people about the dangers of looking directly at the eclipse without any form of protection or watching the event using fake solar eclipse glasses. They even made various suggestions such as using pinhole projectors while an Oregon man even shared his experience with eye damage after watching the 1962 solar eclipse without proper protective glasses. He and a friend were left with a blind spot in their eyes as a result.

According to experts, given that there were millions of people who watched the eclipse and just a few cases of eye damage reported, the education campaign in the months leading to the event proved to be quite successful.

The report is published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

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