In just a few short weeks people living in the USA will experience a solar eclipse. This is when the moon aligns itself between the earth and sun, obscuring the pathway of light to earth. This causes a giant shadow across the planet. Some areas will experience “totality,” which is when the moon completely blocks the sun. Darkness in these areas will last about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. You can view a map that illustrates the path of totalityhere. The last time this happened was February 26, 1979 and will not happen again until April 8, 2024.
People of earth need to watch the solar eclipse safely. Looking at the sun without proper eye protection can permanently damage the eye.
Let’s first look at what happens to the eye when a person looks at the sun without approved solar eclipse glasses. When somebody focuses on an object, in this case the sun, the eye adjusts so it aligns on the macula. The macula is the part of the eye that accounts for your clear, central vision. When the intense light of the sun (somewhere in the realm of 10 hundred billion lumens) is focused on this tiny little area, it can burn the macula, much like a sunburn.
So how will you know if you have solar retinopathy? Well if you feel like you stared at the sun for too long, you should see an eye care professional. Symptoms may arise even if you sun-gazed momentarily. Common symptoms you should watch out for:
These symptoms will arise hours after the eclipse, much like a sunburn on the skin. If at anytime you notice these symptoms, please visit an eye care professional.
Dr. Koerner practices in Columbia, SC at America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses on Forest Drive. He relishes spending his free time enjoying the outdoors with his wife, Danielle. Click here to follow Dr. Koerner on Facebook!