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Solar Eclipse Burns Crescent Shape Into Woman’s Eye




She’s learning to live with the damage.

A new report shows in detail the damage that improper viewing of a solar eclipse can cause.

A case report in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology describes the case of a woman in her 20s who looked at the Aug. 21 solar eclipse. Media reports identified her as Nia Payne.

INVISION JAMA eclipseThis image shows the eclipse damage in Nia Payne’s eye. JAMA Network

Doctors at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York used “adaptive optics” to “view the damage on a cellular level and see the microscopic structures in her eyes,” CNN reported.


The woman had “viewed the solar rim several times for approximately 6 seconds without protective glasses and then again for approximately 15 to 20 seconds with a pair of eclipse glasses (unknown manufacturer),” doctors wrote in the case report. 

Eyecare professionals had advised using solar eclipse glasses approved by the International Organization for Standardization. But the woman, identified in media reports as Nia Payne, borrowed a pair of glasses from someone else, according to CNN. The glasses apparently did not meet the standards.

Payne soon began having vision problems and “reported seeing a central black spot in the left eye,” the case report stated. It turned out she’d suffered solar retinopathy, for which there currently is no treatment.

With adaptive optics, doctors were able to image the photoreceptor layer of Payne’s retina. What they saw was a crescent pattern that mimicked the partial solar eclipse.

Adaptive optics is a sophisticated technology that allows clinicians to examine microscopic structures of the eye in living patients with extreme detail in real time. Before the development of the technology, researchers could only see this level of detail on glass slides with a microscope.

“We have never seen the cellular damage from an eclipse because this event rarely happens and we haven’t had this type of advanced technology to examine solar retinopathy until recently,” said lead investigator Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in a press release. “NYEE is one of the few sites in North America with access to this technology, and using this to get an exact look at  this retinal damage on such a precise level will help clinicians better understand the condition.”


Payne still sees the dark spot in her eye and is learning to work around it.

She told Today: “My eyes will never be the same. I used to have 20/20 vision. I guess I took that for granted.”

Read more at CNN


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