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There was a huge spike in people Googling that their 'eyes hurt' during the eclipse

Camilo Fonseca   

There was a huge spike in people Googling that their 'eyes hurt' during the eclipse
  • Online searches reporting eye discomfort spiked during the eclipse, according to Google Trends.
  • Many of those searches came from states in or near the eclipse's path of totality.

Large swathes of the US took time out of their day to view Monday's solar eclipse, which brought out awestruck crowds from Texas to Maine.

And apparently, a good amount of people feared they might have damaged their eyesight in the process.

Google searches for "eyes hurt" spiked around the time of the eclipse, suggesting that viewers of the eclipse were worried their discomfort might mean something more serious.

Searches peaked at 3:12 p.m. ET — about 45 mins after the path of the eclipse crossed into Texas from Mexico — and had largely returned to normal levels by 5 p.m on Monday.

Most of those searches were concentrated in states in or near the path of totality — where the moon fully blocked out the sun — which cut through some of the most populated regions in the Midwestern and Northeastern US. Over 30 million people from those regions were able to witness the extraordinary event.

Vermont, a state nearly bisected by the path of totality, reported the most searches from people presumably concerned about their retinas. Most of those searches were in the northern Burlington metropolitan area, according to Google Trends.

The Green Mountain State was followed by West Virginia, which, though not within the immediate path of totality, had 90 search hits for every 100 in Vermont. New Hampshire, Michigan, and Ohio — which did manage to see the full eclipse — were all close behind.

The metro area most concerned with its own eyesight was Presque Isle, Maine, at the far northeastern tip of the country, followed by Plattsburgh, West Virginia, and Alpena, Michigan.

Solar eclipses can cause serious vision problems if viewed without the proper safety measures.

However, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, pain or discomfort immediately after viewing the eclipse is not necessarily indicative of serious eye damage.

"If your eyes feel a little funny after an eclipse, it may not be a sign of solar retinopathy. Damage from the eclipse is unlikely to cause pain or discomfort in your eyes because the retina does not have any pain nerves," the group says.

Serious damage, eye doctors say, would likely manifest in visual symptoms — like blind spots or blurry vision — within four to six hours of the event.

Chances are, if you took enough precautions — such as wearing ISO-certified solar viewing glasses or an appropriate alternative — your eyesight is probably fine. But it can't hurt to get your eyes checked if you're experiencing prolonged discomfort.

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