It takes less than one minute of looking directly at the sun to experience permanent eye damage.
Kendall Krug, doctor of optometry in Hays, is trying to spread the word about eye safety during next Monday’s eclipse.
Viewing the sun directly even when it is partially or fully blocked during an eclipse can cause a condition known as solar retinopathy.
Intense visible light can cause damage to the rods and cones in the eye. The damage depends on the exposure. The exposure can burn a spot on the area of your eye that helps you see detail.
The effects of the sun exposure are painless and can take hours or days to fully appear. Krug compared it to the blind spots we get in our eyes when someone points a camera flash in our eyes — except the blind spot never goes away.
“The retina does not have any pain receptors,” he said, “so you can look at the sun, and it is not going to hurt. It is going to be bright. You are going to shield yourself from the brightness, but it doesn’t actually hurt. That is the problem, you don’t really know you are doing damage.”
There is no treatment for this type of damage, which can affect both eyes. Any loss of sight 20/50 or more would result in a person’s inability to drive or effectively read.
The eclipse can be safely viewed by using aluminized mylar eclipse viewing glasses. There has been some concern in recent weeks fake, unsafe glasses have come on the market. The glasses should be ISO 12312-2 or CE certified and will have this marked on the glasses. Click here to go to the American Astronomical Society’s list of reputable dealers.
The glasses should block 99.9 percent of sunlight, which means you should not be able to see an indoor light while you have them on. No. 14 welders glasses or hood also can be used or a pin hole projector.
When you are done looking at the eclipse, Krug said you should turn away from the sun before removing your glasses.
Pin hole projectors
A pin hole projector can be easily made using a piece of cardboard and piece of paper or a cereal or shoe box. When you use these devices, you turn your back to the sun and a black-and-white image is reflected unto the piece of paper or in the box.
It is not safe to use binoculars or a telescope to view the eclipse unless you have an astronomy solar filter. These should be placed at the front lens and not the eyepiece.
You should not try to take pictures of the eclipse with your mobile device or digital camera without a filter. It will burn out the camera’s components, Krug said.
It is also not safe to view the eclipse with prescription or non-prescription sunglasses, cosmetic tinted contact lenses, smoked glass, or through overcast or partially opaque clouds