Bogus Glasses Damage Eyes of Eclipse Viewer

Woman borrowed a pair for a peek in Staten Island in August
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2017 11:56 AM CST
Woman Suffers Eye Damage From Bogus Eclipse Glasses
The moon passes in front of the sun, shown here shot through a solar filter, during an eclipse Aug. 21, 2017, as seen from Hollywood, Fla.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Experts feared it would happen and, to one woman at least, it did. In JAMA Ophthalmology, doctors describe the case of New York's Nia Payne, who looked at August's total solar eclipse through unregulated eclipse glasses and ended up in the emergency room with a crescent-shaped spot obscuring much of her vision. The 26-year-old didn't purchase glasses of her own and, after looking at the sun without protection for a few seconds in Staten Island, asked to borrow a stranger's glasses for a better look, reports CNN. The woman accepted, and Payne told doctors she looked upward through the glasses for no more than 30 seconds, reports KTRK.

Hours later, Payne noticed a dark spot in her vision. She was later found to have solar retinopathy—or retinal damage from solar radiation—in both eyes, though the damage was worst in her left. Taking a closer look, doctors noticed damage to cells "in the photoreceptor layer" of Payne's eyes showed "a crescent shape," explains study author Avnish Deobhakta. "That really has never been able to be seen before." CNN notes solar retinopathy is permanent and untreatable, and though damage may improve over time, it can also worsen. Doctors said the damage to Payne's eyes likely occurred as she looked through the glasses, which they presumed to be short of international safety standards. (More solar eclipse stories.)

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