They're hearing from worried patients.
Eyecare providers did their best to get the word out about the dangers of unprotected eclipse viewing — but the message didn't always get through.
Now they're dealing with people who are worried they've damaged their eyes by looking directly at the sun.
"We've actually already seen our first patient! Our area (which is outside the path of totality) hadn't even hit peak coverage yet, when we had someone ... walk in concerned because she was seeing spots after looking at the sun without any protection," said Christine Howard, optician at optician at Attleboro Vision Care in Attleboro, MA.
Fortunately, there were no signs of damage.
Dr. Amina Ebrahim of DVision Eyecare in Allen, TX, has also begun hearing concerns.
"A friend (and patient) texted me within minutes that he accidentally looked out through his sunroof right at the sun with his sunglasses on," she said.
Hopefully the worried patients that ECPs are seeing will not turn out to have permanent damage. But the risk is by no means only theoretical.
In a trending post on Reddit, one user offered a stark warning based on experience. User denissimov described the results of looking at a partial eclipse "about 20 years ago" for 30 minutes.
"I was young teenager in a summer camp and did not know any better," the user wrote. "I looked at the sun through my partially closed fist (to reduce aperture) with my right eye. I have a small spot in my right eye that kinda static (like TV static). Whenever I take eye exam (reading letters), I have a very hard time reading letters with my right eye (because of the burned spot)."
The user added: "Burned eye retina, like mine, is incurable and inoperable. I will have to live with this all my life. It's not bad enough that would render me disabled, just annoying sometimes."
And despite all the public education efforts, it's clear that many people still didn't understand the dangers of this year's eclipse.
"It's AMAZING how many people had NO clue that normal sunwear was not appropriate!!" said Claudia Hecht of Sterling Optical in Newburgh, NY. "Scary, really ..."
Healio has published tips from Dr. Jerome Sherman on managing patients who may have suffered eye damage from the eclipse.
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