Experts recommend eye safety during eclipse

Mar. 13—LIMA — The way we view the world is through one very important organ: the eyes. On April 8, residents will have an opportunity to watch a total solar eclipse. Experts recommend each person wear glasses to protect themselves as they experience history.

Rare moment

"We are a little over a month away from a true once-in-a-lifetime experience in Ohio," Executive Director of the Ohio Optometric Association Dr. Elizabeth Muckley said in a recent press release. "Our state's last total eclipse occurred in 1806. As the leading eye care association in the state, we look forward to providing the public with eye safety tips so they can enjoy this opportunity safely."

According to NASA, an eclipse takes place when the moon blocks the sunlight from Earth. Throughout most of the eclipse, the Ohio Optometric Eclipse Political Action Committee website states it is not safe to view without glasses. The Putnam County Office of Public Safety released an image on Facebook stating that viewers can remove their eyewear during the 'totality' (when the moon fully blocks the sun).

Importance of protection

The OOA website also states the only safe eyewear are glasses that are thousands of times darker than normal sunglasses.

"It is safe to take off your ISO-certified glasses after looking away from the sun," Eye Site of Lima Dr. Jeff Unterbrink said. "We are giving away free solar eclipse glasses at our offices."

The eyewear should have the 'ISO 12312-2 international' seal.

"Wearing protective eyewear will avoid permanent damage caused by staring at the sun during the eclipse," Unterbrink said. "Staring at the sun causes a photochemical and thermal reaction called solar retinopathy that can permanently damage the critical part of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for detailed central vision."

Potential harm

The OOA website also brings to light the dangers of not wearing protective wear. Without the glasses, the 'toxicity' from the UV rays can cause damage to the Solar Retinopathythe retina after just one second of exposure. The painless damage is noted as 'solar retinopathy.' The website also states the result of the damage includes blurry vision, a change in color perception or headache. It is important to contact an optometrist if you are experiencing symptoms.

Protective eyewear can be found around the region from purchasing a pair at Walmart to your local library. According to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency website the next total solar eclipse will occur in the United States on Aug. 23, 2044.

A list of approved glasses can be found at eclipse.aas.org. For more information visit The Ohio Optometric Association's website at ooa.org.

Reach Precious Grundy at 567-242-0351.