Several people have received medical care after last Monday’s total solar eclipse. The strange part is that a lot of them are not being treated for looking directly into the sun, but for putting sunscreen on their eyeballs.

Nurse practitioner Trish Patterson from Prestige Urgent Care in Redding, California, said that many patients had damages on their eyes and experienced pain for applying sunscreen in their eyes instead of using protecting eclipse glasses to take a glance at the once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event of last Monday. People who did this must go to the doctor.

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“One of my colleagues at moonlight here stated yesterday that they had patients presenting at their clinic that they put sunscreen on their eyeball, and presented that they were having pain and they were referred to an ophthalmologist,” Patterson said.

Some people seemed to ignore NASA’s recommendations to see the eclipse

Last Monday, we enjoyed an exceptional event, a total solar eclipse, that excited scientists and that was also seen by millions around the world. Watching directly into the sun with the naked eye brings terrible consequences to the eye, from problems with the retina and cornea to blindness. NASA, being aware of that, published some recommendations to see the eclipse to avoid people from hurting their own eyes. NASA even posted the labels of eclipse glasses people should get to be protected during the eclipse.

However, many people got their eyes hurt during the eclipse. According to Google, the search for “my eyes hurt” and “eyes hurt eclipse” increased soon after the astronomical event. One of the biggest problems was photokeratitis which is a condition in which the cornea gets inflamed because of UV radiation, exactly what would happen after looking at the eclipse without the right protection.

“At the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary emergency facility, we have already seen dozens of patients with concerns ranging from headaches to subjective blurry vision. While most patients have not had any permanent issues, a few have been found to have some retinal damage, which will require monitoring,” said Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, an ophthalmologist at Mount Sinai Hospital

However, it wasn’t the sole issue. Incredible as it might be, many cases were reported in California of people who thought that sunscreen was a perfect replacement for eclipse glasses.

What to do if putting sunscreen on the eyeballs?

Most people do that without intention, for the instruction of the product say to avoid contact with eyes. However, there’s no need to panic if this happens. People should run their eye under water while blinking for 15-20 minutes. Depending on the case people are encouraged to call Poison Control or to go to the doctor, just in case.

Signs of eye damage include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, pain, spotty vision and difficulty distinguishing color.  It takes about 12 hours after the damage is done to start experiencing the symptoms derived from such damage. For next eclipses, people are advised not to look to the sun with the naked eyes and to put the sunscreen away.

Source: International Business Times