Eclipse Blindness: It’s a Thing

You may have done it. Even the President did it.

If you looked up at the solar eclipse on August 21 without eclipse glasses or other eye protection, there’s a chance you may have caused damage to your eyes.

According to NASA, the sun’s surface is so intensely bright that it produces enough light to damage retinal cells in just a few seconds.

The damage caused by light exposure is called “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, known as solar retinopathy, and occurs with no pain. It can be temporary or permanent. Solar retinopathy damages or even destroys cells in the back of the eye–the retina–that transmit what you see in your brain, according to eye health and safety organization Prevent Blindness.

Possible symptoms from looking at the solar eclipse without eye protection include distorted vision, altered color vision, and loss of central vision. The symptoms may occur a few hours to a few days after viewing the eclipse.

If you’re concerned you may have eye damage after viewing the solar eclipse, make an appointment with an eye care professional. Check the license of an optometrist at the Board of Optometry’s website at, or the license of an ophthalmologist at the Medical Board of California’s website at


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