What Happens If You Looked Directly At The Eclipse? Here’s What To Do If You’re Left Seeing Spots

Did you look directly at the solar eclipse on Monday? What should you do if you’re left seeing spots or have blurry vision?

For weeks, experts have been warning those viewing the once-in-a-century celestial event to not look directly at the sun as the moon crosses its path, and those who suffered damage in previous eclipses have been recounting their tales of permanent eye damage. But not everyone heeded those warnings, leaving a number of nervous people looking for help on what to do about lingering spots from looking too closely at the sun.

So, what will happen if you ignored the warnings and looked directly at the sun during the total solar eclipse?

The worse case scenario is permanent eye damage, CNN points out.

“When you look directly at the sun, the intensity of the light and the focus of the light is so great on the retina that it can cook it,” Dr. Christopher Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association, told the outlet. “If the exposure is great enough, that can and will lead to permanent reduction in vision and even blindness.”

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to back that up, with stories this week from people who were left permanently damaged by looking at past eclipses.

However, Slate added that eye specialists are not sure exactly the risk from looking at the sun during an eclipse, hence the blanket warning to keep your eyes averted. If you only stole a quick glance at the sun, it’s not likely you face much damage.

“If you look at it for a second or two, nothing will happen,” Jacob Chung, chief of ophthalmology at Englewood Hospital, wrote in an article for NorthJersey.com. “Five seconds, I’m not sure, but 10 seconds is probably too long and 20 seconds is definitely too long.”

Should you go to the doctor if you looked directly at the eclipse? If you sneaked too long of a peek at the celestial phenomena — or are left seeing spots in your vision after watching it — there is a chance the damage is not permanent. As the University of Michigan noted, the blurry or spotted vision may go away on its own.

“Depending on the length and extent of exposure, outcomes may vary. Blurred vision or seeing spots could be temporary,” the university’s Kellogg Eye Center noted. “In other cases, the injury is permanent; eyesight won’t return to normal.”

So if you did look directly at the solar eclipse, you don’t necessarily need to rush out to the doctor. But if the effects don’t go away and you’re still left with spotty or blurred vision, it might be a good idea to give a call and see what your doctor has to say.

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]