By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)—Doctors are preparing for possible solar eclipse vision problems with extra staff and equipment in Philadelphia.

Wills Eye Hospital had a last-minute giveaway of solar glasses on Monday. People were lined up around the block at 9th and Walnut St. in Philadelphia.

“We knew today right now was the last option so we came early,” said Tennille Gordon.

Gordon and her 8-year-old daughter were first in line at 4 a.m.

With shortages of solar glasses and fakes circulating it was a last-minute scramble to find protection. It’s the only safe way to look at the sun , even with its power diminished by the eclipse.

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“The sun is a big ball of fire putting out radiation,” said Dr. Mark Blecher, with Wills Eye Hospital.

Blecher says staring at the sun without protective glasses can cause solar retinopathy, injuring the retina and potentially leading to vision loss.

“We have extra staff and extra equipment on standby so we can evaluate and diagnose patients who might have had a problem,” said Blecher.

Symptoms of retinal injury are blurriness and seeing spots and it can take up to 12 hours to develop.

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“I think we’re gonna have 2 camps: people who are unduly concerned any little problem, then we’re going to have people who just don’t care and don’t listen to what we’re saying who are going to have some real problems,” Blecher  said.

Can you do anything after the damage happens?

“Short answer to that is no, if you’ve gotten damage to eye nothing we can do to reverse damage,” Blecher said.

Dr. Blecher says if you just quickly looked at the sun for a second there probably isn’t any permeant damage. He also said people with fair eyes are more at risk for sun damage.


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