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6 retina and cornea burns reported after the eclipse: Quebec doctors

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Three cases of retinal burn and three other cases of corneal burn have been confirmed following April's total solar eclipse, according to the Quebec Association of Ophthalmologists (AMOQ).

There are also three other suspected cases of corneal burns that have not been confirmed.

The AMOQ collected the data by surveying ophthalmologists, who responded voluntarily between April 9 and 24.

The association warns that the data may have been underestimated, but it believes that the tiny number of cases proves the success of the awareness campaign deployed in the run-up to the eclipse on April 8.

According to her, these efforts have "helped to reduce eye damage among the population."

"However, these results show that the risks associated with observing such a phenomenon without protection are very real, and that the visual effects of solar retinopathy (burns to the retina) can be permanent and irreversible," said Dr. Cynthia Qian, AMOQ spokesperson and ophthalmologist specializing in the retina at CHU Sainte-Justine and Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.

The association recorded 18 consultations in clinics linked to the eclipse. The average age of these patients was 38, and the most common symptoms were pain or discomfort in the eyes and blurred vision.

Of these 18 patients, 40 per cent admitted that they had not worn certified glasses to observe the phenomenon.

"This data is particularly revealing, as it demonstrates the need for even more preventive eye health measures, particularly for more vulnerable populations, on the fringes of events such as eclipses," said Qian.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 10, 2024. 

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