Solar eclipse watchers go to eye doctor in NYC after staring at sun

LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- At least one eye doctor's office in New York City saw a surge in visitors the day after a rare solar eclipse held the attention of the region and nation.

Warnings were everywhere - do not look at the sun without special glasses. But many people apparently didn't get that memo.

Some of those people showed up at Dr. Jessica Lee's office in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

"If you notice any changes to your central vision, if colors look different, any color distortions or any blind spots, you should see an ophthalmologist," Dr. Lee said.

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She said at least a dozen patients walked in Tuesday, saying their eyes were burning, their vision was cloudy and colors looked a bit off.

All admitted they put down those highly-recommended safety glasses and, if only for a few minutes, looked at the sun with their naked eyes.

"It's not that the sun was any brighter than usual, it's that it became less painful and more comfortable to look at the sun because it's covered by the moon," Dr. Lee said.

Dr. Lee said in other parts of the country, where people experienced a total eclipse, they had a greater chance of damaging their retina and cornea -- but there was a risk even in the Northeast.

She said the big concern is the retina, because it doesn't have pain receptors.

"If you had hundreds of patients coming in with damage that would be really worrisome and concerning, but for the most part, they didn't wear eye protection when they should have," Dr. Lee said. "But thankfully they are doing OK."
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