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Worried about solar eclipse effects? Experts say it's not likely

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Columbia, S.C. (WACH) -- Thousands enjoyed the solar eclipse Monday afternoon and many were in possession of the safety glasses needed to view the celestial event.

However, some have lingering worries of the aftereffects of viewing the solar eclipse, particularly if they question the legitimacy of their glasses or managed to sneak a glimpse or two at the event with their naked eye.

But Dr. Earl Loftis, O.D. with Eye on Gervais says the proof of lasting damage will be immediately known.

"There's an afterimage as if you've just seen a flash," said Dr. Loftis. "And you know how those last for a minute or two. If you really damage your eye that would still be there today."

Dr. Loftis says solar retinopathy, which people get from looking directlly at the sun during eclipse events, usually goes away in about a few days to six months. However, sometimes, there can be long-term damage if the sun is stared at too long.

According to experts, though, this is nearly impossible to do.

"The sun makes it very clear very early that it can't and won't be looked at for too long," said Dr. Loftis.

Viewers of the eclipse may feel various symptoms, such as irritation, blurred vision, dry eyes and eye swelling. These are not necessarily serious. However, if patients experience black spots or afterimages that continue to linger, Dr. Loftis says seeing a doctor is essential.

"If you look at a gray background and flicker your eyes or blink your eyes and you see an image, that could be indication retinas involved and I would definitely see a doctor," said Loftis.

For immediate relief, Dr. Loftis stresses the use of artificial tears, resting your eyes as often as possible and, of course, avoiding exposure to sunlight.

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