“No safe amount of time” to look at sun during eclipse, warns UB ophthalmologist

Release Date: August 18, 2017

Andrew Reynolds, MD.
“There is no safe amount of time for unprotected eyes.”
Andrew Reynolds, MD, Clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Even though Buffalo will only see a partial eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, people who want to view it must wear eclipse glasses or they will risk permanent blindness, according to Andrew Reynolds, MD, clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. He is an ophthalmologist with the Ross Eye Institute/UBMD Ophthalmology.

While looking directly at the sun anytime carries a risk for blindness, Reynolds explained that even during an eclipse the sun remains dangerous. “The eclipse sun is still far more powerful than any other light source, and even glancing at the sun for a few seconds carries a serious risk. There is no safe amount of time for unprotected eyes.

“The condition you can get from looking at the sun during an eclipse is solar retinopathy,” he said. “The sun burns a tiny little hole right through your retina. It’s a permanent blinding condition.”

That’s why buying eclipse glasses is critical for anyone who plans to view Monday’s solar eclipse.

“You have to make sure you have the right glasses,” he said. “There is a very specific international certification that the glasses must have in order to be sure they will provide full protection.”

Glasses approved by NASA for viewing the eclipse will say ISO 12312-2 on them.  

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