Staten Island woman partially blinded by eclipse

Josh Einiger Image
Saturday, December 9, 2017
Staten Island woman partially blinded by solar eclipse
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Josh Einiger has the story.

STATEN ISLAND (WABC) -- Nia Payne thought she was doing everything right when she, like thousands of others, enjoyed the partial eclipse of the sun last summer. She borrowed a pair of "eclipse glasses" from a stranger on the street.

But they weren't the right kind of glasses. Nia suffered permanent damage - a brand, if you will, on the retina of her left eye. Every minute of every day, she sees the eclipse in the form of a dark spot in the middle of her vision.

"It looks like Pac-Man when I close my eyes," she told Eyewitness News. "It looks like a crescent moon."

Nia rushed to NY Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, where doctors used groundbreaking imaging technology - ironically used most often in telescopes to see the stars - to take pictures of Nia's retina. They found damage to her retina in the exact shape of the light that caused the damage.

Mount Sinai retinal surgeon Avnish Deobhakta says the imaging likely won't help Nia, but it's given researchers new information about the damage caused by exposure to the sun or other bright light sources.

"Most of the advancements in our field have been preceded by imaging advancements," he said, "because it allows us to understand the condition better."

As for Nia, she's learning to favor her right eye, which sustained far less damage, and she's already making plans to enjoy the next eclipse in 2024. This time, however, she'll bring her own glasses.