Safe Viewing of the Solar Eclipse

You're probably aware of today's solar eclipse. Here in Spokane we will not get to see the total eclipse but will get to enjoy close to a 26% eclipse. We hope that many or all of you will have the opportunity to see this exciting event.

However, we must warn you that looking directly at the sun, even during most of an eclipse, can permanently blind you! Direct sunlight is so powerful that it will actually burn your retina inside your eyes. If you look directly at the sun, the burns will occur right in the middle of your vision. This is called Solar Retinopathy, and the vision loss rarely improves. During my residency training, I had a 20-year-old patient who had unfortunately blinded himself in both eyes for life as a result of looking at the sun.

Though it is true, as you will hear, that you can view a total eclipse without protection for a brief time during the middle of the event, the risks are simply too great for us to recommend doing so. Children especially should not be allowed to watch the eclipse without proper protection. And here in Spokane, since there will not be a total eclipse, no one should watch it for any period of time unprotected.

To watch the eclipse, you need to have appropriate sun-viewing filter glasses or a viewing system. Regular sunglasses are not good enough. Neither are the temporary sunglasses you get at our office after having a dilated eye exam. See the below infographic from the American Academy of Ophthalmology with good information to get you started. Please start making preparations now!