Eclipse: Do not stare at the sun

Published 6:43 pm Sunday, August 13, 2017

The following is from an article posted by the American Optometric Association in regards to the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.

“Let’s be clear: Staring at the sun is still bad for your eyes in virtually all circumstances, but …”

More than 50 million people in North America will be in an area Monday that will experience a partial or complete solar eclipse, a solar event not experienced in this part of the globe for nearly 40 years.

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With the rarity of that event, there is the urge to see it and document it so that when it comes around again in April 2024, you can say you saw it, experienced it.

But, according to Dr. Hilary Parrish, an optometrist at Riverbend Eye Car, looking at Monday’s solar eclipse without proper eyewear, could lead to permanent damage to your vision.

“Think about when you were kids and you would take a magnifying glass and use the sun to burn leaves and that kind of thing. Basically, that is what can happen to your retina, the back of your eye,” Parrish said. “The low energy radiation from the sun could pass through the eye and hit the retina and basically burn the eye.

“Some of the damage to the center of vision of your eye, and it could be permanent, where you could lose some vision from that burning.”

Parrish said the combination of it being a unique event and the sun being covered by the moon, adds to the potential threat.

“With the solar eclipse it is more dangerous to do so, because the sun will not be as bright since it will be partially covered by the moon,” she said. “A lot of people are just fascinated by it, so they might find themselves staring.”

Parrish said there are glasses available that have been approved to wear during the eclipse, giving those interested in the phenomenon a chance to watch it without the threat of damage to the eye.

“You can look at it if you have the solar eclipse glasses. And I know there has been a lot of about them online, but there is a certain safety standard that you have to have when buying them. Those you will need to buy will say they have been approved for viewing the eclipse,” she said. “You cannot use regular sunglasses at all. You have to use the ones approved for viewing the eclipse.”

Parrish said there are some short-term threats to the eye if staring at the sun too long.

“One thing you can have is a little bit of dryness from staring at then sun, and you can also have some damage to your cornea that should heal if it is just a minor burn,” she said. “It might be uncomfortable for a day or two, cause some blurred vision that will go away.”

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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