Optometrist Mark Abrahams, who sees patients two days a week in Hillsboro, has advice for those who plan to watch the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
“Even when (the sun) is partially exposed, looking at it can cause thermal burns in the back of your eye,” Abrahams said. “It’s just like shining a laser in your eye.”
He said when he was working at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita he had a patient who had retina burns because of looking at a solar eclipse without protective eyewear.
“The whole point of the eye is to focus light in on a very small point,” he said. “So your eye is basically like a magnifying glass to focus in on a small point from where you get your central vision.
“Looking at the sun is just going to focus all that energy to a small place in the back of your eye,” he added. “That’s why it can be really dangerous.”
It’s important that people take care when viewing the eclipse.
“You have to have approved eyewear,” Abrahams said. “NASA has a list of what the eyewear needs are. There are some strict guidelines (to be safe).”
American Paper Optics is one company that makes official eyewear.
“We ordered (eyewear) from the official site, so we know they’re real,” he said. “We’ll have some available to give away. I’ll bring some here (to Hillsboro) to give them out.”
Abrahams cautions people who may order eyewear for viewing the eclipse from online sites.
“There’s a very big problem with counterfeits,” he said. “Even on Amazon, even the ones they said were official, there’s been reviews from people saying they got the wrong shipment.”
For those who plan to view the eclipse with children, Abrahams said, “Make sure everybody has (the proper eyewear) because kids might not listen to instruction quite as well.”
The only safe time to look without glasses is during the total eclipse, he said.
“And if you’re not in the total eclipse path, which we will not be, you shouldn’t be looking at it at all without (solar eclipse glasses).”