Avera Medical Minute AMcK: How to view the solar eclipse safely

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On August 21, we will be witnessing a solar eclipse. It’s been 38 years since a total eclipse was visible from the continental United States.

But viewing the eclipse without proper eye ware can cause eye damage.

“Even just momentarily looking at eclipse can cause solar burns on the retina,” said Dr. Greg Hill, optometrist with Avera Medical Group Eye Care.

Dr. Hill says everyone needs to take precautionary measures on what is to be one of the most viewed eclipses of all time.

Normally when we try to look at the sun on a normal day, it’s impossible for two reasons – first, our pupil shrinks down and protects us. Secondly, it’s so bright that we instinctively divert our eyes.

“But during an eclipse, we don’t have those triggers so we’re more likely to think it’s safe to continue looking at the sun because it’s not uncomfortable but yet the energy – particularly the UV energy and the Infrared energy – are still just as dangerous as always,” said Dr. Hill.

There are ways you can safely view the eclipse. Do not wear normal sunglasses. You must wear special eclipse glasses that are available at your optometrist’s office.

“The glasses that we have are coming from Bill Nye the Science Guy and approved by NASA and what you want to find is ISO certified,” said Dr. Hill.

The injury to the eye is not immediate if you do look at the eclipse unprotected.

“But then later on you start noticing you’re missing a spot in your field of view in the central part of your vision -- either a dim spot or even a crescent shape,” said Dr. Hill.

And although it may be tempting to take a picture of the eclipse with your smart phone or camera, Dr. Hill says not to. Doing so also poses a danger.

For more information, just call 877-AT-AVERA.