Local eye doctors warn of dangers of viewing eclipse without glasses

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Food Giant employee Alex Inman on Wednesday shows solar eclipse glasses that was being sold at the store’s East Malone Avenue location in Sikeston. The store has since sold out of the glasses.
Spencer Edwards, Staff

SIKESTON - "Never look directly at the sun," parents have always warned their children. The risk of permanent blindness from looking into the sun is real, and shouldn't be taken lightly or as a dare.

Remember the grade school experiment where you use a magnifying glass to direct the sunlightto a piece of paper, and the sunlight will burn a hole in the paper?

Local eye doctors use the magnifying glass analogy to explain why looking at the sun is dangerous.

"The cornea and crystalline lens of the human eye focus light to the macula, and when you look at the sun, the focusing parts of the human eye can actually burn the macula and cause irreversible blindness," said Daniel Obermark, Sikeston optometrist.

"Looking at the sun is always dangerous, even for a short time," said Obermark.

"Solar maculopathy is damage to the macula from exposure to the sun. The eye will naturally try to repair itself, but sometimes the damage is irreversible," added Obermark.

Eclipse mania has everyone wanting to look toward our sun. "The eclipse is an exciting event, but we should remember to enjoy it safely," said Kenneth Barkett, Sikeston ophthalmologist.

"It is important to wear the protective glasses that have the proper filters."

Sikeston Optometrist, John Hopson, said that the glasses should conform to the international safety standard, which is provided at the website, eclipse.aas.org.

"Staring directly at the sun for no more than a few seconds without proper filters is similar to focusing sunlight on a leaf with a magnifying glass. Just as the magnifier will burn a hole in the leaf, the lens in the eye will focus the sunlight on the back of the eye and literally burn the retina," said Hopson.

The glasses should bear the number of the safety standard which is ISO 12312-2. Its important to inspect the glasses for scratches on the lens which would render them unsafe for use in viewing the eclipse, according to online sources.

Protecting your eyes won't break the bank, but finding eclipse glasses may be difficult as most businesses who carried the eye ware have sold out.

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