There Was A Concerning Spike In Certain Google Searches Right After The Eclipse

Google Trends / Luc Viatour / Wikimedia Commons.

James Felton 22 Aug 2017, 15:10

The eclipse happened yesterday, in case you're the one person who missed it and wondered why it was briefly night-time during the day. 

OK, there's not much chance you missed it, given the amount of coverage everywhere. There were countless articles online and so many TV items during the news letting you know how to view it safely, you can't have missed all of them.

But nevertheless, it looks like the message didn't sink in. Not with the President of the United States of America and not with the public.

Judging by spikes of certain search terms, it looks like a lot of people did what you should never do during the eclipse: stare right at the Sun.

For example, the search term "eclipse headache" suddenly spiked during the eclipse.

People searching for "eclipse headache" suddenly saw a spike. Google Trends

And suddenly everyone has been searching Google for the terms "eyes hurt". Which, unfortunately, probably isn't coincidental. 

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In fact, a lot of related terms seem to have had a lot more traffic on the day of the eclipse, including the inquisitive phrase "looking at the Sun" and the vastly more specific phrase "I looked at the Sun".

This one could people generally interested in what looking at the Sun would do. Google Trends. 
This one, however, is almost certainly from people who looked directly at the Sun during the eclipse.

There were also people who only looked at the Sun for a few seconds, and Googled that to see if they'd gotten away with it.

A lot of people searched for "I looked at the Sun for a few seconds" and other related term. Google Trends.

Overall, there seems to have been an alarming amount of people shortly after looking at the Sun Googling about what they should do next. God only knows how massive the spike was on Bing.

So what should you do if you were one of the people who couldn't resist taking a little glance at our star?

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Well, that depends. If you looked whilst wearing proper safety glasses, it could be that your eyes just hurt from adjusting to the unusual light you saw through the shades, like when you wear any new glasses and it takes time for your eyes to adjust.

If you looked directly at the Sun without glasses, however, it can potentially burn your retina (which is known as solar retinopathy). According to the Eyecare Trust, symptoms include:

- Watery and sore eyes
- Difficulty seeing shape and detail of objects
- Discomfort with bright light
- A blind spot in your central vision
- Objects may appear to be unusually colored or distorted in shape 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and you looked at the Sun you, you should see your physician or optometrist ASAP. Even if you are the President.

[H/T: Mashable]

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