The Sun Really Did Burn An Eclipse-Shaped Hole Into Someone’s Retina

The Sun Really Did Burn An Eclipse-Shaped Hole Into Someone’s Retina
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You know all those warnings to use protective gear when looking at an eclipse? A new study in JAMA Ophthalmology shows exactly what happens when you don’t.

Photo by Tom Driggers.

After this August’s eclipse in the US, a woman named Nia Payne showed up at Mount Sinai’s New York Eye and Ear Infirmary saying she had a blank spot in her vision. The doctors asked her to draw the shape of the spot; it was the shape of the sun during the solar eclipse (round with a bite taken out of it).

She had glanced at the Sun for a few seconds without eye protection when it was 70 per cent covered. Then she borrowed a pair of eclipse glasses and looked for 15 to 20 seconds more.

The glasses were probably fakes; Payne said the Sun seemed really bright when she looked through them. The doctors at Mount Sinai used a state-of-the-art device to take pictures of the wound to her retina, and found it was exactly the same shape as her blind spot. The Washington Post reports that this is the first time doctors have been able to see the damage from an eclipse this precisely.

The next time you get a chance to watch an eclipse, use the right kind of glasses – or make a pinhole viewer instead.

[JAMA Ophthalmology]