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Despite all the warnings about looking at the eclipse without safety glasses, some may have been tempted to defy scientific advice and steal a peek. Don’t feel bad — even the president of the United States did it.
But staring at the sun for even a short time without the right protection could have damaged your retinas permanently or caused a specific type of blindness called solar retinopathy, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
You were warned
There was plenty of advice in the run-up to the eclipse about the dangers of looking at it directly. As The Times reported on Monday, humans cannot see infrared light coming from the sun, but it can cause damage that won’t heal. And there are no pain receptors in the retina, so you would not have even felt the damage occurring.
The damage is not literally a burn — but the light stimulation on the eye induces chemical changes that are damaging, said Dr. Stanley Chang, a professor of ophthalmology at Columbia University.
With sky-high anticipation over the upcoming solar eclipse on Aug. 21, there are plenty of opportunities to get burned — visually and financially. According to NASA, the only safe way to watch it is with special solar-viewing glasses (also called eclipse glasses) or handheld filters. Available for as little as $2 each for paper-frame models that resemble movie theater 3-D glasses, these are not sunglasses but have lenses with specially designed filters to safely watch the first total eclipse from …