- Rescuers have evacuated 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped for more than two weeks in a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand.
- At least eight boys are in hospital quarantine, with doctors taking extra precautions to ensure their safe recovery – which includes having them wear protective sunglasses.
- A Thai health official said the sunglasses were a temporary measure as the boys’ eyes adjust to being out of the darkness of the cave.
The 12 boys and their soccer coach who rescuers saved from a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand in recent days had not seen the sun for more than two weeks.
Their eyes were so adjusted to the darkness of the cave that they had to wear protective sunglasses once they emerged as a temporary measure to begin their recovery.
At least eight boys are being treated in isolation in Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, with doctors taking several precautions to ensure their safe recovery, the Singapore-based newspaper The Straits Times reported.
The team members and their coach were trapped about 2 1/2 miles into the system of caves with little food, shelter, or light – something the teams responsible for treating the boys are taking into careful consideration.
Thailand’s public-health ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, said the boys were wearing protective sunglasses because their eyes had to adjust to light after having spent so long in the dark cave, The Straits Times reported.
“The first four boys’ eyes are normal,” he said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. “For the second group [that] arrived last night, they are still wearing sunglasses. We will check later today whether their eyes have adjusted to light.”
Few people have been in this situation before, so there’s not much research on the topic.
Slate’s Brian Palmer explained in 2010, when rescuers pulled 33 Chilean miners out after two months underground, that being in the dark that long could decrease the eye’s ability to respond to sudden changes in light.
The healthcare team is likely to increase the boys’ exposure to light slowly over the coming days to allow their eyes to adjust without damage.
The boys are also receiving tetanus and rabies shots, and two were put on antibiotics after they showed signs of pneumonia, The Straits Times reported.
Because they had not eaten in so long, the boys were being eased back into a normal diet, eating soft foods like bread, chocolate, and rice porridge despite their requests for a spicy chicken dish.
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