If you plan on viewing the August 21st solar eclipse, you better have your certified eclipse viewing glasses ready. Experts have been warning the public for the past few weeks just how dangerous it is to stare at the eclipse with the naked eye. If you thought their warnings were an exaggeration, think again. 70-year-old Lou Tomososki from Oregon is asking people not to make the same mistake he did over 50 years ago when he watched a solar eclipse without proper eye protection.
Lou and his friend were walking home from Marshall High School in Oregon one afternoon in 1962 when a partial solar eclipse occurred. They gazed up at the sky and watched as a sliver of the moon covered the sun’s surface. Lou remembers seeing flashes of light while he was watching the eclipse, similar to a camera flashing. Those flashes of light ended up causing permanent eye damage for both Lou and his friend.
“We both got burned at the same time,” he said. “He got the left eye and I got the right eye.” Lou was warned by his teachers to use a pinhole projector box to view the eclipse, but he didn’t pay attention to the warning. Now 70 years old, he still has trouble with his right eye.
“We were just doing it for a short time,” he said.”I have a little blind spot in the center of my right eye.”
Lou worries that the August 21st eclipse will cause eye damage to those who don’t use proper eye protection. “Millions of people out there are going to be looking out at it… How many of them are going to say, ‘Something happened to my eyes?’ he said. “That makes me sick.”
Lou’s eye damage is known as solar retinopathy – retina damage from looking at the sun, which causes a blind spot in the eye. Dr. Russell N. Van Gelder, a professor of ophthalmology at University of Washington School of Medicine explained, “Anyone who stares at the sun can get this blind spot. When you know that you have a problem is if that blind spot has not gone away (the next day).”
Solar retinopathy is not treatable. The only way to prevent it is to avoid looking directly at the sun. If you plan on viewing Monday’s solar eclipse, make sure you purchase eclipse glasses to protect your eyes from damage.
Watch the video below for more information on the dangers of watching a solar eclipse without eye protection: