Dated YouTube sketch misrepresented as child blinded by eclipse

TikTok posts with millions of views claim to show a child going blind after observing the solar eclipse visible over much of North America on April 8, 2024. This is false; while staring into the Sun can cause eye injuries, the boy in the video did not lose his vision -- he was acting in a YouTube skit originally posted after a 2017 eclipse.

"Kid goes blind after staring at solar eclipse without solar eclipse glasses," says text over an April 8, 2024 post on TikTok.

Screenshot from TikTok taken April 9, 2024

The clip racked up more than 18 million views on the platform, while a similar post on another page generated some five million more.

The posts and others like them spread after the Moon briefly obscured the Sun, leaving sky-gazers across much of North America dazzled by the rare astronomical phenomenon

Experts warned ahead of the April 8 eclipse that looking directly into the Sun without protective glasses can cause serious and sometimes permanent damage to the retina, disputing posts advising people to forgo eyewear that filters out the vast majority of light.

However, the footage shared across TikTok does not depict an actual injury.

Reverse image and keyword searches show a family of six that regularly posts vlogs and other content shared the clip to one of its YouTube pages in September 2018 (archived here). The video's title references an August 21, 2017 eclipse visible across North America.


The family posted a prior version of the video August 22, 2017, but it is now unlisted (archived here). 

"THIS IS JUST A SKIT! A very bad idea but please know it's not real. SORRY!" the caption says.

In a follow-up video, the family addressed concerned viewers who thought the boy had actually gone blind (archived here and here).

"In response to our last video, Mike, he is not blind," said father Vincent Carter. "He is not blind. It was supposed to be like a two-, three-part video joke. Now I realize it was tasteless."

However, the family revived the joke for the April 2024 eclipse, posting a pair of videos titled "7 years since going Blind from 2017 Solar Eclipse" and "2024 Solar Eclipse Healed my Blind Son..." (archived here and here).

AFP contacted the group for additional comment, but no response was forthcoming.

AFP has debunked other misinformation about the eclipse here, here and here.

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