Doctor separates fact from fiction on effects solar eclipse has on eyes

13News Now Jemie Lee looks into myths associated with the solar eclipse and your eyes.

VIRGINIA -- There's no question that gazing at the solar eclipse without any protection is dangerous.

Dr. Salib is a retina specialist at the Virginia Eye Consultants. He said the damage could be so severe it could cause blindness.

“It could be extremely damaging. It could cause a blind spot in the middle of your vision,” he said.

With so many people with their eyes to the skies today, we took our questions to Dr. Salib to separate fact from fiction.

Q: Is looking at the solar eclipse more harmful to your eyes than looking at the sun on any other day?

A: Fiction

“There’s no difference. Anytime you look at the sun you risk damage to your retina or to your eye,” Dr. Salib said.

Q: Can looking directly at the sun create a hole in your retina?

A: Fiction.

“It’s not a hole in the retina, but it's an actual burn in the retina. So it's a hole in your vision but it’s a burn on your retina,” Dr. Salib said.

Q: Is the damage permanent or is it treatable?

A: It’s permanent.  

“There’s surgically nothing we can do. The retina is made of brain tissues-- we can't replace damaged tissue-- we can only do things like repair retinol detachments. There's much we can do for many retinol conditions but unfortunately this is one we can't repair,” Dr. Salib said.

Even looking for a couple of seconds could do permanent damage, and the symptoms would start immediately.

“Difficulty reading, difficulty focusing on peoples’ faces, and basically difficulty seeing,” Dr. Salib said.  

Even though there's nothing you can do to treat it, Dr. Salib urges anyone affected to see an ophthalmologist. A doctor can determine how bad the damage is and talk to you about ways you can learn to manage it.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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