Did I just blind myself while looking at the eclipse?
August 21, 2017 10:43 AM   Subscribe

I just looked at the sun while wearing Soluna eclipse glasses backwards, and now my eyes feel ever-so-slightly funny (dry, warm, stingy). Or maybe I'm imagining it. Am I going to go blind?

The glasses ship flat, and need to be folded by the user. I ended up folding mine the wrong way, so I was looking through the lenses backwards. I looked about 3 times, about 10 seconds each time.

The instructions printed on the glasses don't say anything about which way to fold them, or whether directionality is important. But the lenses are shiny on the outside, and dark on the inside – and upon closer examination, it's clear that I had them backwards (the instructions are printed on the inside; the outside is decorative).

My eyes do feel a little weird now, but it's slight enough that I could be imagining things.

Please tell me whether to chill out, or make an emergency trip to the ophthalmologist!
posted by escape from the potato planet to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I should note: through the glasses, the sun was a clearly defined, pale orange circle – about what I expected to see.

I'm probably fine, but I'd feel way better if someone knowledgeable about this technology could weigh in.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:49 AM on August 21, 2017

If you have concerns about going blind, an Internet forum full of laymen is not the right place to ask. Make an emergency trip to the ophthalmologist, or at least call their office for an immediate opinion.
posted by WCityMike at 10:55 AM on August 21, 2017 [11 favorites]

The stinging and discomfort wouldn't be related to any loss of vision. Your eyes might be dry from staring or I've heard (just now from an ophthalmologist) that staring at the sun could cause some temporary corneal issues. But that is not permanent.

Damage to your retina wouldn't cause any pain or irritation. Are you noticing any blind spots in your central vision?
posted by AtoBtoA at 11:02 AM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

No blind spots or other visual disturbances.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:03 AM on August 21, 2017

Why not check out an Amsler Grid and just see if your vision is actually impacted or if you're just sketching yourself out.
posted by Temeraria at 11:04 AM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

You're probably fine.

I'd see an ophthalmologist if you do notice any odd visual changes. Or if you want 100% peace of mind. There's no rush though, if your retinas have been damaged, it's already done (as far as I know) so a delay in noticing the effects doesn't mean it got worse, it just means you've become aware of it.
posted by AtoBtoA at 11:14 AM on August 21, 2017

As far as I can see, these glasses don't have lenses. They are made from foil, and I'm quite sure that it doesn't matter which way the light passes through it. If it were a big deal, there would probably be a warning no the glasses not to look through them backwards.
Seconding the thought that your eyes are just a little dry from staring without blinking as much as you usually do. (I am not a doctor, but have a degree in physics.)
posted by amf at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2017 [6 favorites]

All the stories I've read of people who have gotten eye damage from looking at an eclipse have said they had an afterimage of the sun, like that shape was burned in their retinas. If it's any comfort, I watched the eclipse through a welding helmet that I was assured was the right kind but later discovered had a lower rating than it should have. I feel like my vision is a little weird too but I bet it's all in my, um, head. Even if you did damage them, there's nothing medically that can be done about it, according to the internet, so just hope for the best!
posted by HotToddy at 11:59 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

These aren't really "glasses" with light focusing lenses, and it's the focusing that makes your normal eyeglasses work one way and not the other. They are simply filters that block the majority of photons from coming through. That effect works the same in either direction. You are fine. If it turns out this did cause damage, then you should immediately do whatever you can to purchase as many of them as possible, if not the company itself, because producing a filter that transmits light in one direction but not the other without a magnetic field or nonlinear optical materials* is theoretically impossible.

*And if you have found a reliable supply of those at the prices these glasses have been going for, you are STILL about to get very rich.
posted by solotoro at 12:05 PM on August 21, 2017 [13 favorites]

Seconding that it would break the laws of physics if the glasses only filtered light one way.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:40 PM on August 21, 2017 [7 favorites]

The reflective side is one-way. My eclipse glasses from 1994 were not reflective, and not quite as dark as this year's glasses. If you have sunburned your eyes, give them rest, fluids and pain relievers. If you have any changes in vision or your eyes feel gritty, go see an eye doctor.
posted by theora55 at 2:24 PM on August 21, 2017

Here's a story for you: I suffer from anxiety (particularly health anxiety) and I had a near panic attack after taking a few extremely quick glances at the eclipse with my friend's eclipse glasses. I suddenly became worried the glasses were knock offs or not good. I started paying so much attention to my vision and anything that seemed every so slightly different that I think I manifested weirdness and basically magnified any feeling I had or what are probably normal vision anomalies (I normally have floaters and my right eye is slightly more blurry than my left, also when out driving and seeing glares off cars they leave little burns which dissipate quickly, but normally I never notice these). I have no burns in my vision and I can see just fine. But, as any anxiety sufferer will know, I keep going "what if" and creating fictional vision problems for myself.

Perhaps you're just anxious like me and creating issues by paying way more attention to your eyes than you normally would.

For the record my friend was using the glasses quite often and for longer looks, and she was totally fine.
posted by christiehawk at 2:37 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Thanks, y'all. I've chilled out a bit and I think I'll be fine.


Seconding that it would break the laws of physics if the glasses only filtered light one way.

Isn't this exactly what one-way mirrors do, though?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:08 PM on August 21, 2017

When you looked through them, was it super dark and you could only see the sun? If the glasses work properly, you really shouldn't be able to see anything through them other than the sun. I could only see a turned-on lightbulb with my Lunt glasses when I got close to it. If they don't seem to work right, check and make sure yours aren't counterfeit because apparently that has happened.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:09 PM on August 21, 2017

It was super dark and I could only see the sun.

I followed the manufacturer's instructions to make sure they weren't counterfeit, and they appear to be legit.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:28 PM on August 21, 2017

Isn't this exactly what one-way mirrors do, though?

This is a good question, so I hope since your main one was answered we won't get dinged by the mods for covering it. I'd make the case that it's still reinforcement and clarification of the original answers.

In fact, one-way mirrors are not really one way. They are made of a material (or a combination of materials) that is mostly reflective, but still allows a little light through. The trick to them isn't that they do this more in one direction than the other, it's that after installing, someone made sure that the area on one side is better lit than the other! That's it, that's the whole game. If you are on the side that is better lit, you will be getting a lot of light coming at you that is reflected from your side, and only a very little that has been transmitted through from the other side. If you could dim the lights in your room and brighten them in the other, you'd very quickly start to see through the "one-way" mirror - and the people on the other side now wouldn't be able to see you.

In fact, this happens to me pretty frequently if I get to work on a bright day in the summer; even though our doors are just normal glass, I can check my reflection and fix my hair more easily than I can see into the relatively dimly lit lobby. But in the winter, when it's still dark out and the inside lights are up, I can kinda barely see my reflection but mostly I just see into the lobby because even dimly lit it's much brighter in there than out in the dark.
posted by solotoro at 7:27 PM on August 21, 2017 [10 favorites]

I read that the lenses in those glasses is a sheet of plastic with a micro layer of aluminum adhered to it. This should work no matter which side you look through. The only way it stops working is if this thin sheet of metal is scratched off. You should be fine. Also, Those glasses are manufactured by American Paper Optics, a totally legit source for these glasses.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:11 AM on August 22, 2017

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