Monday, August 14, 2017

Solar Eclipse

As an Optometrist , I want to express concern that I have about the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug 21. There are serious risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse directly, even with the use of solar filter glasses. Everyone should keep in mind if they or their children are considering this.
We have to keep in mind that some people will encounter the inability to control every aspect of this exercise. For instance, true solar eclipse glasses are made for adults, do not fit children well and should not be used without direct parental supervision. If the solar glasses do not filter out 100% of the harmful UV rays, if they are not used absolutely perfectly, or should there be a manufacturing defect in any of them, this will result in permanent and irreversible vision loss for any eye exposed. Just like sunburn to the skin, the effects are not felt or noticed immediately. I have a great fear that I will have patients in my office on Tuesday, Aug 22 who woke up with hazy, blurry vision that I cannot fix. It is a huge risk to watch the eclipse even with the use of solar glasses. There is no absolutely safe way to do so other than on TV.
The biggest danger with children is ensuring proper use without direct parental supervision. As the eclipse passes over many places, including Columbus, the moon will not block 100% of the sun. Because so much of its light is blocked by the moon, if one looks at it without full protection, it does not cause pain as looking at the sun does on a regular day. Normally if you try to look at the sun, it physically hurts and you can't see anything. During an eclipse, however, it is easier to stare for a bit....and even less than 30 seconds of exposure to a partially eclipsed sun, you can burn a blind spot right to your most precious central vision. With solar glasses you can't see ANYTHING except the crescent of light of the sun. Kids could have a tendency to want to peak around the filter to see what is actually going on up there. One failure, just one, where education and supervision fail, will have such a devastating consequence.
Please, please be safe. Watch it on television.

Michael Schecter

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