Eye doctors share important safety information about total solar - WSMV News 4

Eye doctors share important safety information about total solar eclipse

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We're less than two weeks away from the Great American Eclipse.

There are a lot of questions and concerns people have about properly viewing this once in a lifetime event.

Ophthalmologists cannot stress enough the importance of wearing approved eclipse viewing glasses.

Damage done to your eyes cannot be treated. They say the best treatment is prevention.

“It's not something you really want to play around with. If you're looking up at the sky, you need to have your (eclipse) glasses,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Nathan Podoll with the Vanderbilt Eye Institute.

Podoll explained the proper way to view the partial eclipse with the approved viewing glasses.

“You want to be looking down, place them on, then you can safely look up at the sun,” he said. “What you're going to see is a mild orange glow. Before you take them off, direct your eyes away from the sun and you can safely take them off."

Podoll said there is a time period where it's safe to take off the glasses during totality. But a lot depends on where you are.

“You have to be precise about that. You have to be in the path of totality. Which not all of the Nashville Metro area is. So you need to look at map to make sure you're in the path of totality, and then look at the narrow window of the total time of totality,” Podoll explained. “If you're sure of those things, then yes - you can view the total solar eclipse for the totality of about two minutes without your solar eclipse glasses.”

If you do stare at the sun during a partial eclipse and suffer retinal damage, symptoms may not show up immediately.

Those symptoms include watery eyes, blurry vision or developing blind spots.

“A blind spot would be an area in your vision where you're not seeing, or it is dark gray or black,” Podoll said. “You could have a mild injury to the retina that you may recover from completely, or may have permanent vision loss that may result of this.”

Dr. Ming Wang at the Wang Vision Institute said after solar eclipses, there are typically a wave of patients who have suffered irreversible eye damage.

“Do not remove your solar eclipse glasses while you are looking at the sun," Wang said

Wang said even with approved viewing glasses, do not stare at the sun during the partial eclipse. Instead, look at it for a few seconds, then look away.

“If you wear (prescription) glasses, keep them on. Put (eclipse viewing glasses) over your (prescription) glasses,” Podoll said.

When it comes to your pets, Wang said don't chance it. He recommends keeping them inside that day. They too can suffer retinal damage.

On Aug. 17, the Wang Vision Institute is offering a free educational seminar about the total eclipse. All attendees will get a free pair of solar eclipse glasses.

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