Solar Eclipse May Have Affected Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Solar Eclipse May Have Affected Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The recent solar eclipse had revved up many for a chance to see this rare natural occurrence. So much so that stores and websites sold out of the disposable protective glasses ordered weeks in advance. There were also hotel rooms booked last year and stadium seating going for thousands in what was known as the path of totality.

After all the hype it turned out to be an incredible experience for those safely viewing while some others, ignored medical advice and snuck a peek (or longer) bare-eyed. As a result, it was reported that a spike in calls to many optometrists occurred by those fearing eye damage.

If you looked at the sun without protection, your eyes in the aftermath of the solar eclipse may affect your chances of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or even other vision conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma. Currently, your eyes may be repairing or possibly re-adjusting to less vision strength than you had before.

Blind Spots in a Glance

People might joke at the hyper-vigilance but there could be damage without even knowing it. Unless you were in a safe viewing location, if you looked at the glowing orb directly, some significant damage may have occurred.

CBC News reported that according to Dr. Kevin Mowbray at the Mount Pleasant Optometry clinic in Vancouver, Canada, “even just glancing at the sun during a partial eclipse can cause some permanent loss of vision.”

Dr. Mowbray comments,

“You don’t go completely blind, but you do get little blind spots called scotomas…They [those who looked at the eclipse without protection] will start to notice a lack of color. Immediately everything will appear to be bleached out, and depending on how long they were looking at the sun, there will be a profound loss of the ability to actually focus on anything.”

One glance and years of healthy vision could potentially be wiped away. Not even the president could avoid such an irresponsible act.

Over Time

If you even peeked at the eclipse and your retina was minimally exposed the damage may take time. The strength of the sun during an event like this increases exponentially and it is essential to heed the warnings to protect your future vision.

A recent report in the Atlantic stated that,

“Most sun-related visual injury is gradual and cumulative over the course of years, leading to cataracts and macular degeneration. But acute overdoses can cause a different sort of irreversible damage to the retina [known as retinopathy] even after a few seconds. Most such solar, or photic, retinopathy is temporary, manifesting as spots in the visual field—like after a camera flashes in your eyes. Though in the case of solar damage, deficits in the visual field can last weeks, even months.”

Unprotected viewing of a solar eclipse is kind of a small bombardment on the retina which can weaken what is needed if a disease like macular degeneration develops in the future. However, there are ways to detect if damage may be long or short term and some nutrients you could increase for possible eye repair or protection.

What to Look For

Potential damage to your retina may cause immediate or future symptoms. Some of these, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, might include:

  • Pain
  • Trouble reading
  • Blurry or discolored spots
  • Loss of vision in the center of the eye
  • Watering or soreness
  • Light sensitivity and discomfort
  • Trouble seeing shapes and details
  • Objects appearing distorted
  • Blind spot in vision

Obviously, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially after a few weeks, you should visit your eye doctor.

Unexpected Results

If you decide to see your eye doctor due to changes occurring in your vision after the eclipse, there may be some unexpected results. Like many scenarios where someone goes to get something checked and another ailment is detected, this too can happen after experiencing sight discrepancies following such an event.

According to Adriane Santa Croce, an ophthalmic sonographer at Scheie Eye Institute in Philadelphia as reported by Business Insider,

“the concerns about vision following the eclipse may uncover unrelated eye problems that people may not have addressed otherwise,” including changes in vision related to diabetes, cataracts, macular degeneration, or glaucoma.”

This is why it is always recommended to have your eyes checked on a yearly basis rather than wait for a solar eclipse mishap. Macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and other eye diseases can be lying dormant for easy detection and treatment from a simple eye checkup.

Shoring Up Your Retina

Strengthening your vision is always a good idea, especially if you feel there is a weakness occurring. There are many supplements on the market that have been found to help increase vision strength as well as protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The National Eye Institute reports,

“The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), which was led by NIH’s National Eye Institute and concluded in 2001, established that daily high doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and the minerals zinc and copper—called the AREDS formulation—can help slow the progression to advanced AMD. The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends use of the AREDS formulation to reduce the risk of advanced AMD.”

In addition, other supplements to include are:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Bioflavonoids
  • Vitamins A, B, D
  • Phytochemical antioxidants (plant extracts, such as those from ginkgo biloba and bilberry)

Also, maintaining a high, plant-based diet can incorporate many of these supplements naturally. Talk to your doctor, naturopathic doctor or even informed supplier for the best supplement you can take to strengthen and protect your vision.

Take care of your eyes in the aftermath of the solar eclipse and beyond. The next total solar event will be on February 15th, 2018 in the southern hemisphere. Then there will be several partial eclipses throughout 2018 and beyond until 2024 when another total eclipse will emerge in the northern hemisphere. This gives you plenty of time to get a pair of protective glasses and remind yourself never to look directly at the sun during such an event, even for a second.