P 766Photochemical macular lesions (solar retinopathy) in germany due the total solar eclipse on August 11, 1999
W. F. Schrader, R. Grajewski
Background: On August 11,1999 in southern Germany and southeastern Europe a total solar eclipse could be observed, the first time since 1842 in this area. As expected, this event attracted several million spectators in Germany alone. Because during the annular eclipse on April 17, 1912 over 3500 cases of solar retinopathy were reported in Germany (incidence 5/100000) and on the occasion of a partial eclipse in Berlin on june 30, 1954, 57 cases (incidence 5/100 000), the population was urged by the media not to observe the sun without adequate protection. We wanted to find out, how much education and eclipse shades could prevent macular damage.
Methods: Establishing a central registry, collecting data from all eye hospitals and eye doctors in Germany: Visual acuity, extend of macular damage, safety measures and place of injury. 6 months later a second poll will evaluate the morphologic and functional outcome.
Results: In Germany alone 17 million eclipse shades were sold. Most of the path of the total eclipse was covered by clouds, so that only 11% of the visitors could see the total phase of the eclipse. 69 eye hospitals, that serve to a population of 32 mio. people, reported on 47 persons who suffered morphologic retinal damage (incidence 0,16/100 000). Every fourth symptomatic patient had observed the eclipse in mediterranean countries without eye protection. Visual acuity was normal in 17 / 47 cases (=1.0), slightly reduced (0.5 to 0.8) in 23 cases and severely reduced (=0.4) in 7 cases.
Conclusion: Equally, information, sun shades and the bad weather conditions, that allowed observation of the total eclipse phase only to 11% of the population that visited the area of the total phase, contributed to the small number of victims with retinal damage from viewing the solar eclipse.
Universitätsaugenklinik, Josef-Schneider-Str. 11, D-97080 Würzburg