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Google searches for ‘am I blind’ inevitably spike after people ignore eclipse warnings

The terms hit max popularity moments after the eclipse.


Phillip Tracy

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 22, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 7:43 pm CDT

It appears Donald Trump wasn’t the only one to directly expose his eyes to a total solar eclipse.

Google Trends keyword searches for the term “eyes hurt” spiked following the solar eclipse, despite the endless coverage of how to safely view the phenomenon. Perhaps people didn’t want to wear those goofy glasses or ended up buying counterfeits. Whatever the case, eye doctors are keeping busy.

“At the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary emergency facility, we have already seen dozens of patients with concerns ranging from headaches to subjective blurry vision,” Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, an ophthalmologist at Mount Sinai Hospital told CNN. “While most patients have not had any permanent issues, a few have been found to have some retinal changes, which will require monitoring.

The term started trending around 3pm ET, right about the time the eclipse was working its way across America. Other popular terms include “vision loss,” “I can’t see,” and a personal favorite, “I can’t see shit.”

Here’s a graph comparing the terms “solar eclipse” (faded blue)  and “I can’t see shit” (solid blue) in the past week. Notice how “I can’t see shit” slightly trails the eclipse and hits its max point of interest just after. This suggests they’re related.

google trends graph eclipse i can't see shit
Google Trends

Here’s another graph comparing “solar eclipse” with “am I blind.”

google trends am i blind eclipse
Google Trends

And finally, solar eclipse vs. “my eyes hurt.”

google trends eclipse my eyes hurt
Google Trends

Note, the graphs are not to scale. When comparing the two terms directly, there are so many “eclipse” searches that “I can’t see shit” (and all similar terms) appears flat.

That fortunately suggests only a tiny fraction of people are having vision problems. We recommend anyone searching those terms check out our viewing guide for the next eclipse once they’ve gotten their sight back.

H/T The Next Web

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*First Published: Aug 22, 2017, 4:36 pm CDT