Metro-East News

Here are the 5 things this eye doctor wants you to know about the eclipse

Without proper protection, eclipse may cause permanent blindspots, eye doctor says

Dr. Joshua Wilson, of Advance Vision Care in Belleville, discuss solar eclipse eye safety during a Facebook Live broadcast with Belleville News-Democrat reporter Kelsey Landis on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017.
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Dr. Joshua Wilson, of Advance Vision Care in Belleville, discuss solar eclipse eye safety during a Facebook Live broadcast with Belleville News-Democrat reporter Kelsey Landis on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017.

The Belleville News-Democrat did a live interview Wednesday with Dr. Joshua Wilson, an optometrist with Advanced Vision Center.

Here were the top five questions people asked and Dr. Wilson’s responses:

▪  1. Can I use eclipse glasses made in China?

No. ISO-certified solar eclipse glasses are made in the United States. Look for ISO-certified glasses with the ISO icon and a reference of 12312-2. Beware of counterfeit glasses, especially on Amazon.com. Only a handful of manufacturers in the U.S. make certified glasses, including American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar silver or gold film only) and TSE 17. Regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe to use in looking at the sun. Some welder’s masks are sufficient, but only a number 14 glass, according to NASA.

▪  2. When can I look at the eclipse without solar eclipse glasses?

You can only view the eclipse safely during totality, or when the moon fully covers the sun. The moon will take several minutes to move full in front of the sun, and it will only remain in totality for a few minutes or less, depending on your location. Shortly before totality, you will see a “diamond ring” shape, and then the moon will cover the sun. You can use a tool from Vox.com that will show you what the eclipse will look like where you are and how long it will last.

▪  3. What happens to my eyes when I stare at the sun? Is damage permanent?

When you stare at the sun, harmful UV light is absorbed by the retina, specifically in the center of your vision. The UV light triggers a reaction that can cause damage to the cells and layers of your retina. The damage may not happen immediately. Kind of like a sunburn, it could take several hours for you to notice there’s a problem. Your vision could become hazy, there might be a dark spot in the center of your vision or it could be difficult to focus on things. Damage could be permanent or take weeks or even years to recover. Severe damage may never recover.

Normally it’s uncomfortable to stare at the sun, but with the eclipse, it’s darker and could be easier to do. Never look directly at the sun without proper eclipse glasses.

St. Louis Children's Hospital Eye Center offers these tips on enjoying the solar eclipse while protecting kids' vision.

▪  4. How can I help my kids view the eclipse safely?

Certified eclipse glasses are safe for kids to use, though most of them are adult-sized. You can tie them tightly around your kid’s head, or explore ways of looking at the eclipse indirectly. There is no safe way to look directly at the sun without certified eclipse glasses or possibly a proper welder’s mask.

▪  5. Where can I buy solar eclipse glasses?

You can still find glasses at some retailers, eye doctors and libraries. The BND compiled a list of places to buy glasses or find them for free.

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