Solar Retinopathy

Friday, Jul 2, 2021 by Nisha Gupta, MD

We will be discussing solar retinopathy this month.

What is solar retinopathy?

Solar retinopathy is when there is damage to the retinal tissues from looking directly at the sun or viewing an eclipse. It can also occur when looking at snow that is reflecting the sunlight or welding without a helmet and goggles.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is blurry central vision in both eyes that presents soon after exposure. Distortions in the vision and a blind spot may be seen as well.

How is solar retinopathy diagnosed?

A comprehensive exam including checking the vision and dilating the eyes is needed. It is important for the doctor to understand the full history of events leading up to the start of symptoms. The dilated exam allows doctors to look at the macula and see if there are color changes indicating an injury. An optical coherence tomography (OCT) photo also helps to see any disruptions in the layers of the retina.

How is this treated?

There is no known treatment for solar retinopathy. Primary treatment is prevention and avoiding any instances that may cause this retinopathy. Often vision improves over 1-6 months after the initial injury, but it is common for patients to have some permanent visual deficit, such as seeing a small black spot in the vision. It is very important to wear protection and not look directly at the sun for any reason.

Return next month for a new topic!

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