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Solar Eclipse–An Optometrist’s Plea

by Drew Whitehead, O.D., Vision Source-Tilley

With the Great American Solar Eclipse just a few days away on August 21, I am urging everyone to keep eye safety at the forefront. If you are planning to view the solar eclipse on Monday, please do so only if you have AUTHENTIC ISO CERTIFIED ECLIPSE GLASSES. There are many last minute fakes that have been produced, so be careful and check the American Astronomical Society website for a list of approved viewing devices.

Many patients have asked about sunglasses, welding masks…etc. NO pair of sunglasses, even polarized, is safe to view the eclipse. They are not dark enough, even if you were to wear 10 pairs. Welding masks #14 and darker are actually approved, but these are uncommon. A true pair of eclipse glasses blocks out everything from view except the sun. It is very difficult for children to grasp this concept and wear them properly, so please closely supervise children when viewing the eclipse.

What’s the danger? Well as we all know here in Texas, the sun produces an intense amount of radiation. The eye focuses that radiation onto the retina and essentially fries it (Think about the old magnifying glass and the ant). The retina can be PERMANENTLY damaged from looking at the sun, leaving you with vision loss.

This rare phenomenon is exciting no doubt, but please take the necessary precautions.  In today’s world, you will get a better view of the eclipse from images on your computer or TV screen and your eyes (as well as your eye doctor) will thank you.