They say that despite warnings, Icarus flew too close to the sun and got burned. Well we were all warned — multiple times — that staring directly at the sun during Monday afternoon’s solar eclipse would be super damaging to our eyes. Not that those warnings made it any less tempting to go outside and sneak a quick peek up at the enticing, burning ball of fire, mind you.
Some of us invested in official, protective eyewear, some of us risked non-official gear, some of us crafted viewers out of old cereal boxes, and the rest took a chance by just looking up anyhow. Heck, even Donald Trump was spotted looking up at the eclipse without safety glasses.
So, what do Americans and Canadians both have in common today? Well according to Google trends, there’s an alarming amount of North Americans googling “eclipse headaches,” and whether having one means permanent damage. Because nothing brings out a community like an eclipse and its aftermath.
Is anybody else experiencing a headache after watching the eclipse? Seriously my head has been killing me ever since.
— ♠iCYONYX♠ (@IcyOnyx) August 21, 2017
Okay the #eclipse was very magical but also I’m now paranoid about my headache am I blind
— Brenna (@brennasherrill) August 21, 2017
So I accidentally looked at the eclipse and I’ve had a headache since 😅 AM I GOING TO LOSE MY VISION?! There are so many things to see!!
— Sarah. (@peezyfbaby92) August 21, 2017
To be fair, the thought of doing permanent damage to your vision is scary, so it’s understandable that everyone’s inner hypochondriac is coming out a little here. But there is some good news, at least for those who are freaking out today:
According to experts, it takes at least 24 hours to see whether any permanent damage has been done to our retinas or beyond, and that a headache following the eclipse — even if you wore certified specs — is actually pretty normal.
Think about it: going from a dark or poorly lit office or home in the middle of the afternoon to stare up at the sun for a few minutes is a hard transition on the eyes, especially during an eclipse. There’s even a scientific term for going from a dark space to a brightly lit one and back: flickering. And yep, it can cause headaches, blurred vision and even nausea.
ok so i didn’t look right @ the eclipse but i looked @ the sky & i’ve had a headache since. will i b blind tmrw? asking for a friend
— mkube (@MyahKube) August 22, 2017
I love that we’re all finding comfort in knowing everyone is experiencing a post-eclipse headache
— Elleni (@elleniyeshiwas) August 22, 2017
The other factor to consider is that your headache could be all in your head as you overthink symptoms, given everyone else’s reactions to them. It’s actually a fairly common thing during large-scale events like this, especially with our access to social media and the internet.
So before you give those googling fingers massive search cramps, you might want to treat your headache like a hangover and lay low for a day or so while you see how your symptoms progress. Wear sunglasses if you do go outside, and avoid looking at the sun again.
And if those symptoms do persist, we all know that Google won’t actually solve anything. Book a visit with your doctor or optometrist pronto, and figure out what’s really going on.
In the meantime, the next eclipse won’t be here until 2024. That gives us lots of time to get ready to try not to look up at the sun all over again.