Eye doctors seeing post-eclipse patients

Staring at eclipse could've caused permanent damage to retina

SAN ANTONIO – Millions of people turned their eyes to the skies Monday to see the mesmerizing solar eclipse. But not everyone heeded the warnings to wear special solar-filtered glasses. Now, there are concerns of damage and people are calling to see the eye doctor.

"My very first patient of the day came in with concerns because they were staring at the sun yesterday," said Dr. Angela Garza, therapeutic optometrist with San Antonio Eye Specialists on North Loop 1604.

A quick one-second peek is probably not a concern, according to Garza, but she said serious damage can occur in a matter of seconds.

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The lenses in the eyes act like a super-powerful magnifying glass. Just as a magnifying glass and the sun can be used to burn a hole in a piece of paper, the sun can also scorch the retina or inner lining of the eye.

"The retina is in charge of sending electrical signals to our brain, so we can process and interpret that visual information," Garza said. "It can reduce that function and can lead to focal areas of blindness."

How do you know if your eyes were damaged?

"You may have symptoms as early as 24 to 48 hours, reduced vision, sensitivity to light," she said. But sometimes, she added, symptoms may also not appear until much later.

Symptoms of damage include blurred vision in one or both eyes, especially in the center of the eye and wavy or distorted spots in the vision.

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If you have symptoms, the American Academy of Ophthalmologists says see your eye doctor.

Some cases resolve within months, but sometimes the damage is permanent, and there is no treatment.

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