Humpday Health: The solar eclipse and your eyes

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We are less than three weeks away from the big solar eclipse, and many of you plan to catch a glimpse of it. But not doing it in the right way could hurt you in a big way.

“If you’re viewing the sun directly, it only takes 100 seconds, which is less than two minutes,” said Dr. Tiffany Jackson, an optometrist in Wilmington.

In less than two minutes while you’re viewing the solar eclipse on August 21, you can cause real damage to your eyes.

“Direct viewing of the sun can cause solar retinopathy, and after eclipse, we always see cases of this,” said Dr. Jackson.

Damage to the retina, or solar retinopathy, is caused by prolonged exposure to solar radiation. The health effects are no joke.

“Loss of vision, light sensitivity, distortion. If you experience any of those, you should come in right away,” said Dr. Jackson.

This doesn’t mean you can’t view the first solar eclipse visible across the lower 48 states since 1918, you just need the proper protection. And no, sunglasses are not gonna cut it.

“Some of those cases come from people thinking their sunglasses are enough and that is not the case,” said Dr. Jackson.

You need special eclipse glasses to view the event on the 21. They block out a much higher percent of UV rays than normal sunglasses. Those old glasses you have from a prior eclipse? Throw ’em out.

“It’s a recommendation that you purchase new ones every time. They’re very inexpensive, they’re not designed really to last, so they don’t really hold up,” said Dr. Jackson.

To safely view an event, that’s nearly 100 years in the making.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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