We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Irish Eye Doc: Pilgrims, Please Stop Staring at the Sun

By Brett Israel
Dec 2, 2009 10:50 PMNov 20, 2019 2:33 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

An Irish eye surgeon has noticed a dramatic rise in the number of patients with damaged retinas this year. The condition is called solar retinopathy, and Dr. Eamonn O'Donoghue, a consultant ophthalmologist surgeon, thinks he knows what's causing the rise. Via BBC News:

Thousands of people have been travelling to the County Mayo pilgrimage shrine of Knock after hearing that the Virgin Mary would appear there. Some claimed to have seen the sun "dancing in the sky".

O'Donoghue believes the pilgrims at the holy shrine—as many as 7,000 gathered on October 31st—are staring into the sun while waiting for the Virgin Mary to appear, and damaging their retinas in the process. Now in real numbers, O'Donoghue has seen five patients with the condition since people began flocking to the Knock, but he told the Irish Times that he normally sees at most one case per year. Again, from BBC News:

Solar retinopathy, or eclipse retinopathy as it is also known, can cause a significant reduction in vision. It can also lead to altered images, altered colour perception and blind spots. While most people will recover their vision within six months, solar retinopathy has the potential to have a long-term degenerative effect on the retina.

O'Donoghue also adds that the reason people are seeing the sun dance in the sky is because, well, they're staring at the sun for long periods of time. So be patient, people. If the Virgin Mary is on her way, staring at the sun won't make her arrive any sooner. Related Content: Discoblog: A Bishop Calls for Holy Water Ban to Stop Swine Flu Spread Discoblog: Holy Crops! Pope Backs Genetically Modified Foods Discoblog: Religion: A Tool to Keep the Parasites Away?

Image: flickr / law kevin

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.