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Home » What’s New » Can you Really Go Blind from Looking at a Solar Eclipse?

Can you Really Go Blind from Looking at a Solar Eclipse?

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Last week, people in South America, Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia and the Middle East saw a solar eclipse. As you may have heard, looking directly at a solar eclipse is very dangerous for your eyes and vision. Nevertheless, this rare event is something that many people want to experience when it does happen. While the next time Americans will have a chance to see a total eclipse will be in August 2017, this is what you need to know to be prepared in protecting your eyes when witnessing this rare event.

Dangers of the Sun

First of all, any time that you stare at the sun, the strong rays can kill cells in your retina. The retina is the light-sensitive area at the back of your eye which receives light from the lens of your eye and sends signals to the optic nerve. If the retina is damaged, this will cause you to go blind. The reason that most people don’t make as big of a deal about this on a regular basis as they do with a solar eclipse is that the sun light is so strong, most people don’t and aren’t able to stare at it. Usually your eye will automatically respond with ways to protect your retina by contracting the pupils, squinting or looking away.

A solar eclipse, however, goes through a number of stages and when the sun is partially eclipsed or most of it is covered, the light does not seem as bright, so the protective reactions from your eye don’t occur. Nevertheless, the part of the sun that is visible is just as strong and intense as looking at the full sun, leaving your eyes vulnerable and unprotected. Further, because a solar eclipse is such a unique event, many people are tempted to look - even when they know they shouldn’t, thinking that a few seconds of exposure can’t really do much harm.

This thinking is unfortunately very wrong.  You may be familiar with the science trick where you can light a paper on fire on the sidewalk using the sun and a magnifying glass. Sunlight is so strong, that when you concentrate the light with a lens, you can start a fire.  The lens of your eye similarly acts to concentrate the sun’s light onto your retina - basically burning it just like the paper in that experiment. A brief encounter -even a few seconds- between your eyes and this intense exposure to the sun is enough to do serious damage.

Usually people don’t realize right away that damage has been done since there is no initial pain with a retinal burn. It can often take several hours for symptoms to manifest and at this point it is already too late.

NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT AN ECLIPSE! In fact, you should never look directly at the sun.

Solutions for Viewing an Eclipse

There are a few options for safely viewing these rare events. First of all, you can purchase special eclipse glasses which are glasses made with specific lenses that block out dangerous wavelengths of light. Alternatively, you can make a pinhole projector which will project a miniature image of the eclipse onto the ground through a piece of cardboard or paper with a hole in it. You can learn how to make a pinhole camera on the NASA website.

So whether you are experiencing a solar eclipse or are out enjoying the warm sunshine, now you know how powerful the sun’s rays really are.

In the wake of the latest recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, we wanted to make you aware of new procedures taking place at Maple Grove Vision Clinic, effective immediately.

HOURS OF OPERATION: We will be open Mondays – Thursdays from 12:00p-5:00p. If you currently have a scheduled appointment outside those hours, our staff will contact you to see how we can best meet your needs.

EMERGENCY VISION ISSUES: It’s extremely important not to neglect your vision needs during this time, so please don’t hesitate to call to schedule an appointment during the above hours in the event of injury, redness, discharge, possible infection, etc.

ROUTINE APPOINTMENTS: Currently, we are scheduling for routine exams for *after* April 6th. If you have a routine appointment already scheduled between now and April 6th, our staff will be contacting you to discuss your needs and how we can best meet them.

GLASSES OR CONTACTS (PREVIOUS ORDERS): You’ll get a call from our front desk (as always) when your glasses or contacts are ready for pickup, and you can stop in during our open hours (above) to pick up your orders. We can arrange free shipping as needed, although glasses are always best when we can fit them to you, in-person. Please call to discuss options.

NEED MORE CONTACTS? We need your business in order to stay in business, and we’re happy to re-fill orders for contacts and ship directly to your home for free.  Just call during our business hours to order or you can also go to our website www.maplegrovevisionclinic.com to order as well.

HOW TO REACH US: Call 763-420-8030 during business hours, or email us at drfrick@maplegrovevisionclinic.com

The health and safety of our patients has always been a top priority. As a reminder, here are the actions we take whenever a patient is in our office:

ONGOING SAFETY MEASURES:

NEW SAFETY MEASURES:

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Please do not come in to our office if you’ve traveled out of the country in the last 14 days, have any symptoms of flu-like or respiratory illness, or have had known contact with anyone who has exhibited such symptoms or tested positive for the coronavirus. As noted above, we are happy to ship any orders directly to your home, or work with a family member to make sure your vision needs are being met.

We will continue to give (and follow) recommendations based on the evidence we have on safe delivery of eye care in a time of uncertainty.  We appreciate your continued support and understanding.

Sincerely,

Dr. Scott A. Frick and staff at MGVC

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Dear Patients- Our hours are changing during this two week period.

Starting Monday March 23rd we will have hours of 12-5 Monday through Thursday.

We are still closed March 20th, 27th and April 3rd. We will start back with regular business hours starting April 6th.