Most people know that they're not supposed to stare directly at the sun, but some still do it anyway, even in small bursts. However, this is an extremely bad idea and could put your vision at risk. If you're curious as to why it's so dangerous to stare at the sun or you've already done it and don't know what to do, read this guide for help.
One of the most basic things that can happen to your eyes if you stare at the sun too long is an eye sunburn, also known as photokeratitis. This tends to occur due to UV damage from the sun to the surface of the eye.
Photokeratitis can temporarily impact your vision, making your vision blurry and things hard to see. However, the damage from photokeratitis is rarely permanent, so don't panic. Symptoms of this condition are very similar to standard sunburns. You can expect to see redness, swelling, and inflammation of the eye and the tissues directly surrounding it. The eye may also feel itchy and dry even if you wash it out or use eye drops.
Of course, staring at the sun wouldn't be such a big deal if all that happened to you from it was a temporary condition. Unfortunately, staring at the sun for too long can cause a much bigger problem: it can damage your retina.
The retina is the part of the eye at the very back that's responsible for receiving light and translating it into an image in your mind. When you stare directly at the sun, it can severely damage the retina and cause symptoms like permanent blurriness, blind spots, or even outright blindness.
If you've stared at the sun yourself or know someone who has, you need to get them medical help right away from an eye doctor. While some damage to the retina may be permanent, an eye doctor can prescribe helpful medications like steroids to reduce the inflammation in the eye immediately and give it a better chance to recover and heal. They can also use their ophthalmoscope to look into your eye and search for damage, so you may be lucky enough to get a clean bill of health out of your visit.
In the future, never stare directly at the sun, even if you're wearing sunglasses. This also goes for when there's a solar eclipse; just the visible edge of the sun is usually enough to still inflict damage to the eyes.
For more information, contact a local eye doctor.