Medical experts have poured cold water on reports of a vision of the Virgin Mary at Knock shrine at the weekend, advising that staring at the sun can cause blurred vision.
The Association of Optometrists Ireland warned of the “very high risk of a retinal burn” after a video was posted on the internet of a large crowd in Knock allegedly staring at the sun dancing in the sky.
Members of the travelling community gathered at the Marian shrine at Knock on Saturday in the hope of a vision of Our Lady, after a 14-year-old boy from the community said he had seen visions of Mary while in Fatima in May and that she would appear in Knock to bless everyone present.
His father explained in an audio message posted on the internet that the boy had seen Our Lady in Fatima for two days and his son had received the message that she would appear in Knock on June 10.
In a video posted on Facebook on June 10 by Biddy Connors titled, ‘Our lady appeared in knock today. Astonishing Never get over what i seen. Please watch’, a crowd estimated at 2,000 are shown gathered at Knock and staring at the sun.
In the video, which has been viewed over half a million times, the crowd can be heard praying the Rosary and excited voices shouting “There’s Our Lady. The blue light”, “The sun is spinning” and “Thank you Our Lady”.
Linda McGiviney of the Association of Optometrists Ireland said staring at the sun and “the overstimulation of the retina would cause an after-image type of effect and it’s up to you to interpret what shapes you are seeing”.
“Staring at the sun is not a good idea,” she said “There is a very high risk of a retinal burn with that and we would recommend people do not do it. Usually it will settle down within a couple of weeks, sometimes up to six months, but sometimes people are left with a little area of blurred vision permanently.”