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Safety tips for upcoming Total Solar Eclipse

(Image via Joe Howell) 

On August 21, 2017, a "Total Solar Eclipse" will take place, the first in nearly a century. A "Total Solar Eclipse" occurs when the moon aligns perfectly with the sun as it passes between the sun and the earth. During this event, skies will darken from Oregon all the way to South Carolina and temperatures will drop. According to NASA, about 325 million people in the country will be able to view some portion of the eclipse. After the August eclipse in the U.S., the next total solar eclipse will be in South America on July 2, 2019.

Why are we discussing this event on our blog? A "Total Solar Eclipse" is actually quite dangerous for your eyes. Looking directly at the sun can cause serious eye damage and even blindness. 

Our own Dr. Lloyd Taustine explains: “Viewing the sun is never safe even with very dark sunglasses.  There are special purpose solar filters which meet the ISO 12312-2 standard but they are not readily available.  The best way to watch the eclipse develop is on TV or at a planetarium."

Dr. Nathan Podoll, M.D., assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) explains that it's the seconds before and after that total ecliples that is the most dangerous:

It is that aspect of the event that is most worrisome to eye care specialists, said Podoll, who urges viewers heed the warning: Never look directly at the sun.

“There are risks of viewing the eclipse without any protection,” warned Podoll. “Normally if you look directly at the sun, the natural response is to squint, shield your eyes, blink or turn away.

“The concern with the eclipse is that when it is in the partial phase, the natural reflex to shy away from looking at the sun is reduced, and that is dangerous because of the possibility of developing solar retinopathy, which can occur without the person knowing it,” he said.

In addition, the retina has no pain receptors so damage can occur before someone realizes, Podoll added. In most cases retinal damage will result in blurred vision or the presence of blind spots. 

We know seeing the "Total Solar Eclipse" is a very exciting event, but you must take the necessary precautions. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has some helpful tips including the proper protective eye gear you must use. They must be certified! So, enjoy the experience but safety first!


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