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Watching the Eclipse Can Cause Eye Damage

9 Aug 2017, 11:47 am

Staring directly into the sun can cause permanent eye damage. Everyone knows that!

So why then, will so many people stare directly into the sun on August 21st?

Solar eclipse!

A Rare Event

In case you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll fill you in on a bit of information about a rare celestial event taking place 8.21.2017.
The solar eclipse.

And because this article is about your eyes, here’s some basics on the eclipse if you’d like to know more.

An Eclipse for the Ages – The Solar Eclipse of 1900

Blind?

Well, for most of us, no. But there still exists the threat of permanent eye damage from even the most fleeting of glances. So if you think you can just quick look up then away without damage, you are wrong.

It’s called solar retinopathy, and it happens when the retina, or back of the eyeball, is overexposed to sunlight. The main problem with this is that the damage occurs with no pain and often isn’t noticeable until hours later.

But during a solar eclipse, the threat of damage is actually higher.

You see, pun intended, during an eclipse more people will stare directly into the sun trying to catch a glimpse of the rare event. But beyond that, the sun won’t seem as bright in the day sky so people will stare at it longer without looking away. And while staring directly into the sun, for longer than usual, the pupils of all of these people won’t contract as much as usual so more harmful sunlight will make it through to the retinas.

The Damage

The damage isn’t instantaneous. Meaning, most people won’t know they did anything wrong until they wake up the following day with distorted vision.

The good news is that, for some, the damage is temporary and may cure itself after a few days, weeks or even months.

Damage can range from blurred vision to spots to even little rings of the sun burned into a person’s sight.

If you find yourself with any of these symptoms following the eclipse there is one thing you need to do– see and optometrist!

Do it Right

the good news, is that there is an incredibly easy way to avoid any eye damage all together!

If you plan on looking directly at the sun there are a few options when it comes to eye protection.

  1. Welder’s Mask
    If you plan on using a welder’s mask, just make sure it’s a shade number 14 and you should be fine taking a few shorter glances at the burning star in the day sky.]
  2. Eclipse Glasses
    Beware of bogus glasses. Scammers will try to make money off uneducated viewers, so make sure your glasses are certified.
    While I could easily tell you what to look for in glasses, there are companies now putting false certification on glasses in an attempt to make a profit so instead click here.
    That is a link from the American Astronomical Society– a list of credible manufacturers as well as places to buy them!
  3. Naked Eye
    Only if you are within the path of totality can you do this! Even then, it is only safe during the moment the moon completely blocks out the sun!
    If there is even a sliver of sun showing, it is every bit as dangerous to look at as the sun burning on a normal day.

And who could forget the classic pinhole viewer.
Here is an excellent video from NASA on making one out of a cereal box!

Whatever you do, just don’t miss this rare event!

For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo

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