Chicagoans who stuck around the city (instead of driving south to Carbondale to catch the total solar eclipse) might have felt a little underwhelmed by the celestial wonder that was mostly blocked by a fortress of clouds.
And if, by chance, those clouds emboldened you to stare at the sky without eclipse-approved glasses, you may have gotten more than just a few fleeting moments of the moon passing over the sun.
It’s called solar retinopathy, a type of damage done to your retina that can be temporary or permanent, according to the American Optometric Association. Solar retinopathy also doesn’t hurt, so don’t be too certain that you came away unscathed just because your eyes feel fine.
Symptoms of retina damage following solar eclipse viewing include sensitivity to light, eye pain or loss of vision in one or both eyes, loss of central vision, distorted vision, and altered color vision.
“If you notice blurry or distorted vision after viewing the eclipse, you should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately for evaluation and treatment,” Brigette Colley, an optometrist with Macomb’s Professional Eyecare Center, said at a Western Illinois University lecture ahead of Monday’s solar eclipse.
Even if you stared into the sun for a very short amount of time, that’s just enough time to cause lasting harm to your retina, experts at the AOA say.
Better safe than sorry; solar eclipses are pretty rare, but you only get one pair of eyeballs.