Like so many others, 26-year-old Nia Payne desired to see August’s historic solar eclipse, but did not have a pair of protective glasses. She walked out on Staten Island and glanced at the sun — 70 percent was covered — for about six seconds before deciding she needed eye protection.
She borrowed a set of what looked like eclipse eyeglasses from someone nearby, then looked directly at sunlight for 15 to 20 seconds.
They were not the proper glasses.
For two days after, Payne watched a black place, shaped like a Crescent similar to the eclipse itself, at the middle of her eyesight. Eventually, she moved into the emergency room and was called the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, where doctors performed a detailed scan of her retinas.
What they found stunned them and contributed to a study they released Thursday at JAMA Ophthalmology.
The dark spot in her vision and the corresponding harm on Her retina had been mirror images of the eclipse itself. It proved that scientists’ “intuitions were correct” in their theories of how the sun damages the eye, Avnish Deobhakta, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Mount Sinai and co-author of this study, told The Washington Post at a phone interview.
Doctors have long known of solar retinopathy, which is a “rare form of retinal injury which results from direct sungazing,” the study noted. It takes place when the sunlight’s energy basically burns the retina. It sometimes happens even when the sun is obscured by the moon during a solar eclipse, because most of sunlight’s rays still reach the Earth.
The Mount Sinai physicians quickly identified Payne for this accident, which has been much worse in her left eye.
They requested her to draw on the black spot she saw on a sheet of paper. It was a crescent that seemed a lot like the eclipse itself.
The doctors decided to take a good look.
Mount Sinai has a precise imaging system which utilizes adaptive optics, which may examine individual cells of the retina.
The machine just recently became an ophthalmology tool. According to Deobhakta, no previously published research showed what it discovered in patients whose eyes have been damaged by a solar panel.
The investigators looked closely in the photoreceptor layer of The retina, that is the component that “takes from the sun’s light and converts it to electrical energy so our brains could make sense of light,” Deobhakta explained.
The sun had burned a crescent on her retina, just like from the picture she drew.
“What we discovered is that the sun’s beams had damaged the Photoreceptor layer in a really particular pattern, like a crescent,” Deobhakta said. “It truly aligned with what she brought for us when we first saw her.”
He said the finding is important since it may be that the first step to discovering a treatment for this kind of injury — which isn’t all that uncommon. While most people instinctively turn away from sunlight and solar eclipses are extremely rare, the type of laser pointers which children and pet owners frequently play with may cause similar injuries.
As of now, this sort of harm is irreversible, something Payne knows all too well.
She is now training herself to mostly focus together with her Proper eye. She must sit close to the T to see it and reading remains a challenge.
The black crescent never disappears -and there’s an embarrassment appearance to it.
“So far, it is a nightmare, and at times it makes me quite sad when I close my eyes and watch it,” Payne told CNN. “It is embarrassing. Individuals will assume that I was merely one of those people who stared blankly at sunlight or did not check the person who has the eyeglasses.”
“It’s something I must live with for the rest of my life,” she added.
This analysis might be the very first step to ensuring she doesn’t.