CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Carolinians have been repeatedly told that the Monday solar eclipse will damage their eyes if viewed without protection, but if history is any indication, some people will look anyway.
Following a solar eclipse in the United Kingdom in 1999, several thousands people rang helplines or attended special eclipse clinics, reported an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. A week later, the nation had at least 14 confirmed cases of permanent damage caused by the eclipse, the site reported.
One study done after a 1976 eclipse in Turkey revealed around 10 percent of those with eye damage had permanent visual loss to the extent that they couldn't read a car license number plate at 25 yards, reported the article.
So how will you know if you've been a victim Monday? Experts say it could take days before symptoms show up.
PreventBlindness.org says those symptoms include sensitivity to light, eye pain or loss of vision in one or both eyes. Other indications:
- Loss of central vision.
- Distorted vision.
- Altered color vision.
Exposing your eyes to the eclipse without proper eye protection can cause "eclipse blindness" or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy, said PreventBlindness.org.
"This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain," said PreventBlindness.org. "This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage that has occurred."
The American Optometric Association said millions of people from Oregon to South Carolina are facing the danger of eye damage when the moon covers part of the sun for 2 to 3 hours. The sun's light will be blocked for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds.
If you should experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse, the association advises making an appointment with an optimistic for a comprehensive eye examination.
Here are four ways to safely view a solar eclipse from the American Optometric Association: