Eclipse leaves behind few reports of eye damage in OKC
Oklahoma City — Most Oklahoma City residents apparently listened to the barrage of warnings not to look at Monday's solar eclipse without eye protection — or if they peeked, they didn't do major damage to their sight.
Ronald Kingsley, a retina specialist at the Dean McGee Eye Institute, said a person with a damaged retina would have “a dark, cloudy or hazy area” in the center of their field of vision. Symptoms don't always develop immediately, but you probably are in the clear if you haven't noticed problems a day after looking at the eclipse, he said.
Jim Durbin, executive director of development at the institute, said he knew of three people who had scheduled eye exams related to the eclipse, but quite a few more had called for advice or because they weren't sure if they'd hurt their eyes. Some wanted to know, for example, if they could use the dark glasses from the last time they had their eyes dilated — which staff emphatically told them wouldn't protect their vision, he said.
“It was a lot of calls, but some of it was, ‘Is this safe?'” he said.
Brooke Cayot, spokeswoman for Integris hospitals, said none of their locations reported emergency room visits from people concerned they had damaged their vision.
Ophthalmologists had an unusual moment in the spotlight in the weeks leading up to the eclipse as they warned the public about the dangers of looking at the sun without protective glasses.
Solar radiation causes a chemical reaction in the retina that damages the light-sensing cells in the retina, according to the American Society of Retina Specialists. Damage to the retina can cause temporary or permanent loss of the focused vision needed to read, drive, or recognize faces.
Durbin said the institute staff didn't have a projection about how many people might need eye exams after the eclipse, but they did worry people might accidentally use unsafe glasses. Experts had cautioned eclipse watchers to use only approved glasses, because ordinary sunglasses, welding masks and homemade filters wouldn't provide enough protection to guarantee safe viewing.
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The institute had intended to distribute glasses at the viewing party at Myriad Gardens on Monday, but scrapped that plan after determining it had gotten a fraudulent shipment.
“There were concerns because of the number of counterfeit glasses out there,” he said.