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How do I know if my eclipse glasses failed?

The great solar eclipse of 2017 is history. It came and went in a matter of minutes. If you happened to be in Georgia, the transition wasn't total but was pretty darn close.

Ahead of the event, there was a lot of hype. Some of it even proved true. Flowers shut their petals as the moon passed between the Earth and sun. In the northwest, eclipse-created tides tore apart nets on a fish farm. Hundreds of thousands of salmon died. The big question for human eclipse watchers has to be whether they took it in without suffering damage. Here's how you can tell if you were hurt and what recourse you may have.

Symptoms of damage

Chances are nearly everyone who decided to watch the eclipse did so with proper protection. Either they used the old pinhole in a piece of cardboard to watch a projection on the ground or they wore safety glasses. Unfortunately, even before the eclipse occurred, it became clear some of the glasses sold for that purpose were not up to the task.

If you did get an overdose of sun in the eye, experts say you would not have known it for at least 12 hours. That's how long it takes the first signs to appear. They might include but not be limited to:

  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • A missing spot or spots in the center of vision

Such damage to the retina can heal within a year. In half the cases however, the damage is permanent.

What to do

The most important thing to do if you are concerned is get checked quickly by an eye care professional - either an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They can assess the extent of damage and determine what treatments might be possible for recovery.

If you wore safety glasses labeled NASA-approved, wore them correctly and still suffered damage, you might have a viable personal injury claim. An experienced attorney can help you assess that.

In some cases, a loss of vision could allow you to seek Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Again, speak with an attorney to understand your rights and options.

The key thing to remember is that to take productive action, you need to get the best information you can.

Source: NPR, "How To Tell If Watching The Eclipse Damaged Your Eyes," Andrea Hsu, Aug. 21, 2017

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