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Here’s How The Solar Eclipse Could Damage Your Eyes

If you are looking forward to viewing the upcoming solar eclipse Aug. 21, do not take chances and wear appropriate eyewear, advises an ophthalmologist at Penn State Health.

“Even the darkest sunglasses you could buy in the drugstore are not adequate,” said Dr. Joseph Sassani, ophthalmologist at Penn State Health.

He warns that some unscrupulous vendors are selling “fake” eclipse glasses on the internet and elsewhere.

Normally the sun is too bright to look at, protecting our eyes from damage. But in the eclipse, the partial coverage by the moon allows some of the white light to be blocked. The red spectrum can come through, which can burn the retina.

Dr. Sassani describes the damage that viewing the sun during an eclipse could do to your eyes:

There’s no safe amount of time to look at the sun during a solar eclipse without proper eye protection, Sassani said. How quickly the damage occurs depends on how much of the sun is visible.

Pennsylvania guide to the Great American Solar Eclipse

Right after being burned there is swelling of the retina, and scarring and disruption of vision can result. Some restoration could occur over time, but it isn’t a sure thing.

The area of the retina that provides most of our vision is only 1.5 mm across, he adds.

Kids are at particular danger in viewing a solar eclipse, and shouldn’t be unsupervised. “They have a tendency to look over the glasses,” he said, and may not understand the dangers.

He said it might not be a bad idea to keep kids inside, and watch the eclipse on the NASA web site.

Read the recommendations on safe solar eclipse viewing from the American Academy of Opththalmology.


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