The Thai boys were in the dark for so long that they had to wear protective sunglasses once they got out of the cave

  • Rescuers have successfully evacuated 12 boys and their soccer coach after they were trapped for weeks in a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand.

  • The boys are now in hospital quarantine, with doctors taking extra precautions to ensure their safe recovery — which includes wearing protective sunglasses.

  • A Thai health official said the sunglasses were a temporary measure for the beginning stages of them adjusting to being out of the darkness of the cave.

The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescuers saved from a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand had not seen the sun for 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.

All 12 boys, aged between 12 and 16, are being treated in isolation in Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital, with doctors taking a number of specific precautions to ensure their safe recovery.

The team and their coach were trapped around two and a half miles into the system of caves with no food, shelter, or light, which th e teams responsible for treating the boys are taking into careful consideration.

Public Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr. Jesada Chokedamrongsuk said the boys were wearing protective sunglasses as a temporary measure because they have to adjust to light after having spent so long in the dark cave, according to Singapore-based daily paper Straits Times.

"The first four boys' eyes are normal. 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," Jesada said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Not a lot of humans have been in this situation before, so researchers don't have that much evidence on the topic.

As Slate's Brian Palmer explained when rescuers pulled the Chilean miners out after two months underground in 2010, being in the dark that long could decrease the eye's ability to respond to sudden changes in light.

The health care team will likely increase the boy's exposure to light slowly over the coming days to allow their eyes to adjust without damage.

They're also receiving tetanus and rabies shots, and two of the boys were put on antibiotics after they showed signs of pneumonia.

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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