The Aftermath of The Solar Eclipse

What is Solar Retinopathy?
The name given to eye damage which has been caused by looking directly at the sun is solar retinopathy. The recent eclipse has brought attention the harmful effects of viewing the sun without proper viewing devices.

Your eye has an opening at the front (pupil) and a lens which adjusts to focus images you are looking at onto the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is made up of delicate tissue that is sensitive to light. Solar retinopathy occurs when the harmful radiation from the sun reaches the eye and is concentrated by the lens onto the retina. This burns the retina and destroys the cells that enable you to see.

How do I know if I have solar retinopathy?
As there are no pain-sensing nerves in the retina you will not feel any pain while the damage is being caused. Some hours after the event you may experience the following symptoms:

  • eyes may become watery and sore
  • difficulty in seeing shape and detail of objects
  • discomfort with bright light
  • a blind spot in your central vision
  • things may appear to be unusually coloured
  • objects may be distorted in shape

What do I do now?
In the first instance, go to your local optometrist, the eye specialist found in the high street optician’s shop. Unfortunately, there are no treatments currently available, however the optometrist will be able to advise you on the extent of your particular eye damage and assess and monitor your condition. The optometrist can also refer you on to other specialists if necessary. Alternatively, visit your physicians office to get proper referral of care.

Is the damage permanent?
If the damage is mild, your eyesight may return to normal after a time when the swelling at the back of the eye is reduced. The length of time varies with each individual and the extent of the damage. The eye specialist will advise you on how to reduce the discomfort while the swelling goes down.

Unfortunately, if the damage is more severe, your eyesight may be permanently affected. It is only through monitoring of your sight over a period of weeks that the eye specialist will be able to assess the extent of the long-term damage.

What if my sight cannot be fully restored?
If your sight has been permanently affected, much can be done to help you adjust and use your remaining vision as fully as possible. Services on offer vary in different areas and you should ask your eye specialist to discuss the available options with you.

We hope that you enjoyed viewing the recent solar eclipse. If you, or anyone you know has any symptoms of solar retinopathy from improper viewing, please encourage them to see an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Safely View the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Did you know that the 2017 solar eclipse will take place on August 21?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and the Earth. The area of the Earth shaded by the outer shadow of the moon (penumbra) experiences a partial eclipse; the area shaded by the central shadow (umbra) experiences a total eclipse.

From beginning to end, the eclipse will be visible for about two and a half to three hours, depending on where in the U.S. you are viewing the phenomenon. The maximum level of the eclipse (“totality”), however, lasts only a minute or two.

On the West Coast, the 2017 solar eclipse will begin around 9:06 AM and end around 11:41 AM (Pacific time). On the East Coast, it will begin around 1:03 PM and conclude around 4:06 PM (Eastern time).

Solar Eclipse Glasses: Do They Really Protect Your Eyes?
Solar eclipse glasses are inexpensive, very dark filters with cardboard or paper frames that are designed to protect your eyes from retina damage when viewing an eclipse.

But do they really work?
Staring at a solar eclipse (or staring at the sun at any time) can cause a burned retina — called solar retinopathy or solar maculopathy — that can cause permanent vision loss. So having adequate eye protection when viewing a solar eclipse is extremely important.

Most “eclipse glasses” do offer adequate protection from the sun’s potentially damaging UV rays when viewing a solar eclipse. Look for documentation somewhere on the disposable glasses that says the eclipse shades are certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for safe direct viewing of the sun.

But unfortunately, according to the National Science Foundation’s American Astronomical Society (AAS), excitement about the 2017 solar eclipse has caused the marketplace to become flooded with counterfeit eclipse glasses that say they are ISO-certified when in fact they are not.

Because it is impossible to tell if eclipse glasses truly meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard (sometimes written as ISO 12312-2:2015) by simply looking at them, the AAS created a Solar Eclipse Task Force that has compiled a list of reputable manufacturers and retailers of certified eclipse glasses.

Sunglasses Are Not Enough
Sunglasses don’t provide adequate eye protection during the course of a solar eclipse.

Regular sunglasses, polarized sunglasses or photochromic lenses do not offer adequate eye protection when watching a solar eclipse.

Though these lenses provide 100 percent UV protection during general wearing conditions, the special-purpose solar filters used in genuine eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than ordinary sunglasses to protect the eyes from the intense visible sunlight that can cause a serious retinal injury or even blindness when viewing the sun directly.

When Is The Next Solar Eclipse?
If you miss the 2017 solar eclipse, you’ll have to wait awhile to see another one in the United States. The next total solar eclipse to cross North America will take place on April 8, 2024.

ISO certified eclipse glasses are available for purchase in our office while supplies last. HAPPY VIEWING!