Ophthalmologists at California Retina Consultants Discuss Safe Ways to View Upcoming Solar Eclipse

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The ophthalmologists at California Retina Consultants aim to prevent "eclipse blindness" or solar retinopathy when viewing the rare total solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017.

Dr. Alessandro A Castellarin of California Retina Consultants

Alessandro A Castellarin MD

By wearing the proper eye protection, everyone can enjoy this amazing celestial event safely.

In just three short weeks, we will be able to witness the most rare and spectacular cosmic event of our generation. The Great American Eclipse of 2017 will take place on August 21st with its path of totality extending across the United States from Salem, Oregon all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. The path of totality is a 70-mile wide trail where a full, total eclipse can be viewed. The solar eclipse will be unlike anything you have seen before. The sky will go completely dark, you will be able to see the stars, the temperature will drop, and you can also see the suns corona, an aura of plasma that surrounds the sun.

Because this solar eclipse may be the only one some people will ever witness in their lifetime, it is anticipated to be a highly followed event. This particular eclipse is rare because it is the first time the path of totality crosses the continental United States from coast to coast since June 8th of 1918- nearly 100 years!

What is Eclipse Blindness, Also Known as Solar Retinopathy?

Although this anticipated astronomical event is very exciting, it can also be extremely harmful to your vision unless proper precautions are taken before viewing. We all know that you should never look directly at the sun. But even during an eclipse, the sun’s light can cause permanent damage to the eyes which is referred to as “eclipse blindness” or solar retinopathy. Exposure to direct sunlight can cause permanent and irreversible damage to the retina. The retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye on the inside. Light rays are focused onto the retina through the cornea, pupil and lens. The retina then converts the light into neural signals, and sends these signals on to the brain for visual recognition.

Take Precautions for Safe Viewing

So how do you safely watch this wonder? The safest way is to view the eclipse through solar filter glasses that meet the worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. These solar glasses must be in perfect condition with no scratches, and should be less than three years old. The only time that you can safely look at the sun without a solar filter is if you are within the path of totality, and the moon completely covers the bright surface of the sun and it suddenly gets dark. As soon as the sun begins to reappear, you must immediately use the solar filter again to watch the remaining phase of the eclipse. When viewing the eclipse from other areas outside of the 70-mile totality range, it is not safe to look at the sun at any point with the naked eye. It is also important to remember to never view an eclipse through an unfiltered telescope, camera, or binoculars, as this can cause severe permanent retinal damage as well. Make certain to educate and supervise small children, as young eyes are more susceptible to vision damage.

“By wearing the proper eye protection, everyone can enjoy this amazing celestial event safely,” said Alessandro A. Castellarin, M.D. of California Retina Consultants.

If solar retinopathy does occur, unfortunately the symptoms are painless and may not be noticeable until several hours after the damage has already been done. These symptoms include sore eyes, watery eyes, distortion of objects, or a blind spot at the center of your vision (solar retinopathy). Unfortunately, solar retinopathy cannot be cured and can cause a permanent blind spot in the center of the vision. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible.

Keep these preventative tips in mind, keep a close eye on children, and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse!

For more information on how to protect vision during a solar eclipse, please call Prevent Blindness at 805-963-1648, or visit http://www.californiaretina.com

About California Retina Consultants

California Retina Consultants is a group of vitreoretinal specialists that provide comprehensive medical and surgical treatments for all disorders of the retina, macula and vitreous. They focus on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of these conditions. Many abnormalities of the retina and vitreous may cause visual loss. These disorders include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, macular holes, macular edema and epiretinal membranes. California Retina Consultants has nine ophthalmologists and multiple locations available throughout Central California to serve patients. Locations include Bakersfield, Lompoc, Oxnard, Palmdale, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Valencia and Visalia.

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Sara Johnson
California Retina Consultants
since: 02/2017
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