The biggest celestial event in the U.S., maybe within our lifetime, has come and gone. Of course, I’m talking about the much-hyped event yesterday, which some are naming as “The Great American Eclipse.”
It was estimated that as much as 7.4 million made the trip to the path of totality on the day of the eclipse and according to a CNN poll, half of the U.S. population (around 160 million people) planned to watch the event as it unfolded. Now, that’s a lot of eyes on the sky (or screen, in most cases).
Appropriately enough, according to The Next Web, Google Trends revealed that online searches for the key phrase “Solar Eclipse” suddenly surged at around 6:25 p.m. Eastern and reached its peak at 7:20 p.m. Eastern.
But what happened next is more telling about what people did during the solar eclipse. According to the same report, searches for the key phrase “My Eyes Hurt” surged an hour later at around 8:20 p.m. Eastern and peaked at 8:56 p.m. Eastern.
The graph overlay from The Next Web’s tweet revealed the curious coincidence:
This certainly indicates that despite the incessant warnings against looking directly at the sun with your naked eye, a sizeable number of people did it anyway during the eclipse.
Thankfully, the total number of “Solar Eclipse” key phrase searches vastly outnumbered the ones for “My Eyes Hurt.” This suggests that only a small subset of the solar eclipse spectators made the mistake of looking straight at the eclipse without protective glasses.
Did you damage your eyes during the eclipse?
If you’re one of these unfortunate sun peepers, here’s how you can tell if you permanently damaged your eyes during the eclipse.
First, it may take up to 12 hours before any symptoms show up. The good news is that if you looked at the sun with your naked eyes for just a split second, then the chances of long-term damage are slim. Same with people who viewed the eclipse through the display of a smartphone or a camera.
What is really damaging is the extended exposure to ultraviolet light and radiation from the sun that can literally burn your retinas.
- blurred vision
- whitish spots in your center of vision
The white spots are due to a condition called “solar retinopathy.” This means that the sun’s UV rays have sufficiently damaged the part of your retina that’s responsible for your central vision. Since retinas don’t have pain receptors, the damage won’t be immediately felt.
Unfortunately, although the effects may weaken through time, solar retinopathy damage can last a lifetime and may be irreversible and not treatable.
What do you think? Do you suspect that the solar eclipse ruined your eyes? Drop us a comment!