Hundreds went to eye doctors after May solar eclipse

Kyodo

Almost 1,000 people suffering discomfort or pain consulted eye doctors after the May 21 solar eclipse, and 80 of them were diagnosed with some abnormalities in their eyes, according to an interim report published Saturday by the Japanese Ophthalmological Society.

Eye doctors across Japan said they examined 958 such people by the end of June, with many of them saying they viewed the eclipse without protecting their eyes. Experts had warned people not to watch the eclipse with the naked eye.

Nearly 90 percent said their symptoms disappeared within a few days, but 115 people, or 12 percent, said they continued to see a dark spot at the center of their sight and experience distorted vision. Doctors reported ocular disorders in 80 people, or 8 percent.

Those who were examined by eye doctors ranged in age from 2 to 92, with many of them middle-aged. There were only 69 children aged 12 or less.

“There were fewer children, perhaps because schools had warned them to take protective measures,” said Akira Obana, the head of the ophthalmology department at Seirei Hamamatsu General Hospital in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.

“Those with ocular abnormalities and who experience continuing symptoms may be suffering from eclipse retinopathy, and we are conducting followup research,” Obana said.

The results were announced at a symposium in Yokohama on the eclipse, in which the moon covered the sun and a thin “ring of fire” became visible from Earth.