It’s being called the Great American Eclipse, and on August 21st millions of people across the country will witness the first total solar eclipse to cross North America in nearly a century.
But just as many people are planning to head outside as the sky turns dark, experts warn looking directly into the sun can cause eye damage that can last a lifetime.
“The brightness of the sun and the rays are so direct and so intense, that it literally burns the back part of your eye,” says Retinal Specialist at L.O. Eye Care, Dr. Ahmed El-Sanhouri.
Dr. El-Sanhouri warns looking into the sun for even just a few seconds, can cause long-lasting blind spots in the center of your vision.
“The light goes through the eye, goes through the pupil, the black part of the eye, and it hits the retina, which is the film that lines the back part of the eye, and it will cause those cells to basically die off and once those cells die off, you can’t replace them,” says Dr. El-Sanhouri.
Dr. El-Sanhouri says, a person who’s looked into the sun might not start seeing blind spots right away.
Often times, it’s not until a few days later patients start to complain of not being able to read words, or even see letters.
A reason why he urges those planning to watch Monday’s solar eclipse to be careful.
“The main way of treating is prevention and trying to have people be educated in knowing you can develop permanent damage from this,” says Dr. El-Sanhouri.
If you are planning to watch the solar eclipse, Dr. El-Sanhouri says wearing sunglasses won’t be enough to protect your eyes, and using a phone to capture the moment might damage it.
Instead, he recommends using certified eclipse glasses, or building a pinhole projector as an indirect way to watch.