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Explained: What is Solar retinopathy?


New Delhi, Jan 21: We recently witnessed annular Solar Eclipse on December 26, 2019. But seeing a solar eclipse with naked eyes is never advised. However, several children in Rajasthan viewed the December 26 annular solar eclipse with naked eyes, and it affected their retina.

Around 15 youngsters, aged between 10-20 years, lost their vision after they were affected due to watching the December 26 solar eclipse with naked eyes.

Explained: What is Solar retinopathy?

According to Kamlesh Khilnani, head of the ophthalmology department at SMS Hospital, in Jaipur said that they are currently being treated at the hospital OPD. However, their normal vision was unlikely to be restored.

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"Watching solar eclipse with naked eyes can result in solar retinitis. 15 such cases have been reported at the hospital. Our examination has found that a part of their retina had been burnt," Kamlesh was quoted as saying by IANS.

Looking directly at the sun without proper eye protection, even for a short period, can cause damage to the eyes' retina - a condition known as solar retinopathy.

So, what is Solar retinopathy?

The sun delivers rays of electromagnetic solar radiation, which makes staring at the sun, especially during a solar eclipse, potentially very harmful to the eyes.

The damage occurs in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye what is known as solar retinopathy.

Solar retinopathy - how does it happen?

Light enters the pupil and is then focused through the lens of the eye, onto the retina at the back of the eye.

There are three kinds of light - visible, infrared and ultraviolet (UV). However, UV rays in particular can cause damage to the structure of the eye.

Similar damage can be caused by other intense lights during welding, which is why welders wear highly protective goggles when they are working.


  • Blurry vision
  • Eyes begin to water and feel sore
  • Discomfort looking at bright lights
  • Difficulty discerning shapes, especially detailed objects
  • Objects can look distorted
  • Changes in the way you see color, known as 'chromatopsia'
  • A blind spot in the centre of your vision.

How to treat solar retinopathy

Unfortunately, there is currently no single treatment for solar retinopathy, other than time. An ophthalmologist will be able to help ease the discomfort of symptoms, as well as assess the amount of damage.

Meanwhile, recovery from solar retinopathy can take around one month to twelve months, depending on the extent of the damage.

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If the damage is more severe and extends to the macula, then there may be permanent loss of vision.

In either case, it is important to consult an optometrist, who will assess whether you are suffering from solar retinopathy and possibly advise you to see an eye doctor.

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