By Martin Burns
Five people on a pilgrimage to Knock Shrine in Ireland have been diagnosed with severe eye damage after staring at the sun believing it could be a religious apparition, the Belfast Telegraph has reported.
Dr Eamonn O"Donoghue a top surgeon at University College Hospital in Galway told of how a number of people who had gone to a religious gathering at the Catholic shrine have suffered symptoms of damaged retinas.
His patients were part of a 10,000-strong gathering of pilgrims that visited the Marian Shrine in October hoping to witness a miracle.
But instead they reportedly suffered a condition called solar retinopathy a condition involving the burning of the retina resulting from prolonged exposure to the sun.
Dr O"Donoghue told the news provider: "If it did not have such monstrous effects you could describe it as a cheap circus trick. Any person who has any sort of eye problem would be well advised to give this a very wide berth."
Knock Shrine in County Mayo has been an attraction for pilgrims in Ireland since 1879 when 15 people reputedly witnessed St Mary, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist appear at the church.
by Emily Tait