As the solar eclipse moves across North America, emergency rooms are filling up across the nation. Although many warnings were issued to the public not to watch the eclipse without protective eyewear, many did not head the advice and now find they have severely damaged their retinas.
Because the retinas do not have pain receptors, most did not realize they had caused damage until it was too late.
Jennifer Thompson encouraged her husband, Dave Thompson to go out and look at the eclipse, and then had to drive him to the emergency room. Dave says, “I thought don’t look at the eclipse or you’ll go blind was just silly advice like ‘don’t swallow watermelon seeds or they’ll grow in your stomach. Luckily I didn’t look for long and only have minor solar retinopathy- whatever that means. All I know is I’m going to be out of work, and we can’t afford it.”
Zang Li of New York assumed once the spots in front of his eyes went away he would be ok. He became concerned when after ten minutes his vision did not fully return. “I thought it was all some kind of conspiracy to sell those stupid glasses. And you know those glasses are just going to end up in landfills tomorrow. But I was wrong. I’m devastated. The ER doctor said I suffered burns on 80% of my retina, and it is likely my vision may never come back.”
Even more tragic than the loss of vision suffered by over 10,000 and counting, is the millions who were disappointed by the natural phenomena. Children who spent hours creating pinhole-projector eclipse viewers, only to see a lame shadow cover the sun, were left disillusioned. Zaiden Winslow, age 9, of North Carolina, says, “That sucked. I wish I had stayed inside and watched TV.”
The next solar eclipse is scheduled for 2024, and we can only hope future generations will heed this advice from 2017: IT’S NOT THAT EXCITING, but if you must watch, BUY THE STUPID GLASSES!