Optometrists advise others to protect eyes during solar eclipse

Optometrists advise others to protect eyes during solar eclipse

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The countdown is on. Just one week from Monday, it's the first total solar eclipse to occur in the U.S. in nearly 40 years. Although Oklahoma will only see a partial eclipse, if you plan on watching it, you need to be prepared.

The Library is giving away solar viewing glasses to the first 50 people who come to their eclipse watch party right here in front of the library on Monday. A Lawton Optometrist says these glasses are the only way you should look at the eclipse.

It's a rare event that makes the sun appear darker for a short period of time and people think you can look at the eclipse without eye protection but doctors say, you can't.

"There's no difference in the UV rays on that day than any other day," said
Optometrist Kyle Head. "That's the mistake people make. They look at it thinking there's going to be less. It's like on a cloudy day not putting on sunscreen. You're still going to get burned."

Head says you must have a 99.9% filter over your eyes, or special-purpose solar filters to look at the eclipse. Most people won't feel any pain if they look directly at it or notice a difference in the clarity of their eyesight right away.

"That's the problem," said Head. "It's just like a sunburn. You notice it 30 minutes later or 10 minutes later. You don't notice the damage while it's happening. You just see the light and in the middle of that, you're causing a specific type of burn that causes permanent damage."

He says it kills the tissue and is not like the skin. It doesn't regenerate like a sunburn does.

"There's no way to treat it," said Head. "It's a permanent burn. Some people get vision back if they only looked at it for a short period of time. They may have a burn that heals itself over the next few days, but that's rare."

Doctor Head suggests even with the filters to limit your time looking at the eclipse.

"You just can't stare at it," said Head. "That's all there is to it. Without one of these filters, or even with the filters, you should just look at it for 10 seconds, enjoy it and then pass the filter on to the next person."

The eclipse viewing party will be between 11a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. next Monday. If you can't make it, don't worry we will be streaming it live on our website.