Solar Eclipse and Ocular Protection

As another summer comes to an end and children are on their way back to school we have one thing to look forward to in the next few weeks. Yes, it is that time again for another solar eclipse to happen. The next one will be on Monday, August 21, 2017. Although we can really appreciate the beauty that our outside world has to offer, we must be mindful of the negative impact that it can have on our eye sight. The sun itself can cause permanent eye damage with prolonged views even during a nice walk to the park or when spending excessive time at the beach.

By definition, a solar eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun for up to a few minutes and only occurs once every 18 months on average. Most people are excited to experience that rare moment in the year(s) and it is our job to fully prepare them. Solar retinopathy is permanent damage to the retina when staring at the sun/solar eclipse for long periods of time and can often mimic macular degeneration which can cause vision loss. The main issue with solar retinopathy is that it is irreversible and more importantly it is nearly 100{375739c8259afadcf2e50e273bab49dd198e5988af35cb56ccb8f49e139ade1a} preventable. From reading several articles, most patients who suffer from long-term damage do so after voluntarily staring at an eclipse and often w/ no eyewear protection.

Solar retinopathy with foveal cysts

Solar retinopathy with foveal cysts

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and nasa.gov, it is strongly recommended to use specially designed solar eclipse glasses with certain filters which have to meet the standards ISO 12312-2 when looking at the eclipse. Also, during that time it is not recommended to look at the solar eclipse with telescopes and/or binoculars unless they have that particular filter. The safest and probably most boring option is to stay indoors and watch it on your television, but we understand that most people will want to experience that outside. If you decide to take that risk we strongly encourage you to follow protocol and purchase solar eclipse glasses for your safety. Happy solar eclipse day! And no matter what protect your eyesight.

 

Constance Berryman, O.D.

 

References:

https://www.reviewofoptometry.com/ce/the-role-of-uv-damage-in-ocular-disease
https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/solar-eclipse-eye-safety
https://www.space.com/37199-solar-eclipse-blindness.html
https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety

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