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Protect Your Vision During the Eclipse

Eclipse_Kids.jpgFor some, the upcoming solar eclipse might be seen as a chance to ignore mom's advice to never look directly into the sun.

But experts at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah warn onlookers not to be tempted.

Looking at any part of the sun showing during the Aug. 21 eclipse can cause eye damage known as solar retinopathy, explains Moran ophthalmologist Jeff Pettey, MD.

"Solar retinopathy can cause vision loss and blind spots that can be long term or even permanent," says Pettey. "The same risk you would have looking at the sun on a normal day exists during an eclipse. You might not feel any pain as the damage is being done, but vision loss can show up hours later."

How does it happen?Pettey.JPG

Indirect sunlight enters the eye through the pupil and is focused by the lens onto the retina in the back of the eye with no problem. But focusing the lens of your eye directly on the sun's intense ultraviolet and infrared light for an extended period of time can destroy the retina's photoreceptors rods and cones that are sensitive to light and dark.

It's critical for anyone viewing the eclipse to protect their eyesight with glasses specifically designed and certified for eclipse viewing or #14 welder's glasses.

"Unfortunately, everyday sunglasses won't provide adequate protection," says Pettey. "They just don't block out the damaging rays."

While eclipse glasses protect the naked eye, they do not protect viewers looking through a telescope, binocular, or camera.