Local eye doctors are reporting an increase in calls after many patients ignored the warnings and looked directly at the sun during Monday's eclipse.

Ahead of the rare celestial event, doctors warned that failure to wear proper eye gear could do irreversible damage. The partial shading of the sun causes pupils to dilate and the effects of the sun are intensified.

But it appears that many did not heed the experts' advice. Even U.S. President Donald Trump couldn't resist a peek without protection, despite shouts from the crowd advising him, "Don't look!"

In Vancouver, Mount Pleasant optometrist Kevin Mowbray said the phone at his office was "ringing off the hook" following the phenomenon. Nearly two dozen patients walked through his doors on Monday, all concerned about damage caused by staring at the sun.

"They would get a spot showing up in their vision from what's called bleaching of the photoreceptors," Mowbray explained.

Photoreceptors are specialized cells located at the back of the eyes, which are sensitive to light, shape, colour and movement. Bleaching decreases sensitivity to bright light, but doctors said those who only caught a quick glimpse of the sun probably didn't cause any lasting damage.

While those seeing spots can take comfort in the fact that the symptom is likely temporary, others may have done more serious harm to their eyes while trying to take in the rare solar event.

A doctor in Victoria, who said he saw a similar spike in calls after the eclipse, told CTV News that some patients told him they'd looked at the sun without special glasses for as long as a minute or so.

"If there is damage to the back of the eye, it's permanent," Balraj Sharma said.

"If they’re having an after-image after the fact and it's not going away, it's really important that they get their eyes checked."

Optometrists will examine the eyes for signs of damage, symptoms of which may take as long as a few days to show up.

One of the conditions they look for following eclipses is solar retinopathy, or retinal burning, where cells in the retina are damaged or destroyed. Some see signs of improvement over several months, but vision may never be fully restored.

Those concerned that they may have solar retinopathy should look out for loss of central vision, altered colours and distorted vision, PreventBlindness.org advises.