Eclipse watchers who didn’t heed safety advice now feeling effects in Tampa Bay area

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – All eyes were on the sky all day around the Tampa Bay area and beyond.  It was one unique experience, where we were all connected by one fiery, fierce phenomena – a total solar eclipse. 

People stopped what they were doing, stood outside and talked with one another as they stared at the sun.

Many went into the solar eclipse on Monday with a mission in mind, safety first.

The advice has been offered for months leading up to this moment. People were warned over and over that staring directly into the sun without proper, certified sunglasses could cause permanent problems, including lifelong, irreversible damage to the retina.

Doctors all over the world were hoping that eclipse-watchers were heeding the advice.

After the magic moment in the Tampa Bay area, that’s when it happened.

The phones began ringing in ophthalmologists’ offices everywhere, including Dr. Ivan Suner at Retina Associates of Florida.

“We were worried about this,” Dr. Suner told News Channel 8.

The board-certified surgeon explained that people began calling after they watched the eclipse, worried that possible damage had been done.

Unfortunately, once it is done, it cannot be reversed.

“The problem is damage can occur immediately and [is] irreversible,” Dr. Suner said.

For those who did stare at the sun without any protection, permanent damage can happen where the tissue in your eye is burned off and can’t be replaced.

It leaves a hole in the retina.

“The retina is brain tissue, so there’s no nerve sensation like you would feel a burn on the skin,” Dr. Suner maintains. “So, you wouldn’t feel anything, but you’d have this nice, circular, black spot on your vision.”

If you did use proper protection and your eyes still feel a bit weird, Dr. Suner says that’s normal. After all, you did stare at the sun on a hot summer day in August, and even with protection, that’s going to make you a bit uncomfortable.  Most likely, he tells us, the feeling is gone within 24 hours.  

“If you can see, you’re probably okay.”

He does advise anyone who sees dark spots in their field of vision to seek treatment via an eye exam immediately.

For more information, you can visit http://retinaassociatesflorida.com/

Dr. Suner also tell us that many common questions were answered on his office’s Facebook page.

Follow Melanie Michael on Facebook

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