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Posted by: Fauquier News Flash on 08/19/2017

Solar Eclipse - Protect Your Eyes!

Solar Eclipse - Protect Your Eyes!

What are the symptoms of eye damage from viewing a total eclipse?


Never look directly at the sun's rays. When watching a partial eclipse you must wear eclipse glasses at all times or use another indirect method if you want to face the sun. During a total eclipse when the moon completely obscures the sun, it is safe to look directly at the star -- but it's crucial that you know when to wear and not wear your glasses.


Carolinians have been repeatedly told that the Monday solar eclipse will damage their eyes if viewed without protection, but if history is any indication, some people will look anyway.


Following a solar eclipse in the United Kingdom in 1999, several thousand people rang helplines or attended special eclipse clinics, reported an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. One study done after that eclipse found 45 people with possible eclipse-related eye damage showed up at a clinic in Leicester, England, reported LiveScience.com.


Of that number, 40 were confirmed to have damage or symptoms of damage, and five had visible changes in their retina, LiveScience said.


So how will you know if you’ve been a victim Monday?


Experts say it could take days before symptoms show up, but early signs could include “dim” sight and after images. (Oxford astronomer John Greaves was once quoted as saying the after images looked like a flock of crows in his vision, reported LiveScience.)

PreventBlindness.org says victims may also experience sensitivity to light, eye pain or loss of vision in one or both eyes. Other indications:

  • Loss of central vision.
  • Distorted vision.
  • Altered color vision.

Exposing your eyes to the eclipse without proper eye protection can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy, said PreventBlindness.org.

“This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain,” said PreventBlindness.org. “This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage that has occurred.”

The American Optometric Association said millions of people from Oregon to South Carolina are facing the danger of eye damage when the moon covers part of the sun for 2 to 3 hours. The sun’s light will be blocked for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds.

If you should experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse, the association advises making an appointment with an optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination.

Ways to safely view a solar eclipse from the American Optometric Association:

Still need solar eclipse glasses? Make sure they're legit

  • The only safe way to view a partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or viewers that meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe. If you can't find eclipse viewers, build a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse.

  • Before looking at the sun, cover your eyes with the eclipse viewers while standing still. Glance at the sun, turn away and then remove your filter. Do not remove the filter while looking at the sun.

  • Only within the path of totality – and once the moon completely blocks the sun – can eclipse viewers safely be removed to view totality. Once the sun begins reappearing, however, viewers must be replaced.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs






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