Seems Simple Enough: Don't Look At The Sun

Aug 21, 2017

Common sense says "Don't look directly at the sun." But eye doctors like Julie Metzger say even with a partial eclipse, it still bears repeating.

"On a normal day, if you look at the sun its bright light makes you want to look away. But during an eclipse it's kind of dark and you don't have that sensation of a bright light. You want to stare a little bit longer but it's really not safe," the Northern Kentucky optometrist says.

Metzger says staring at a light bulb will produce a temporary after-image, but staring at even a sliver of the sun can do permanent damage. She says you can develop solar retinopathy in as little as 30 seconds.

"You actually get swelling in the retina. It can burn a hole through the tissue because it's such intense light."

Metzger says the damage may not show up until a day or so later. She compares it to a sunburn.

"When you're experiencing the bright sunlight you might not notice any problems, but the next day it tends to swell the retina from all the exposure to the radiation from all the UV light it received."

Metzger says if you should see an eye doctor immediately if you have any problems.

"There's different things that we can look at to assess how severe the damage is. Some people will recover from that damage, other people will not."

The Cincinnati area will have about 90 percent of the sun covered by the moon.

Metzger recommends using either a pinhole camera or eclipse glasses that are ISO 12312-2. She says welding goggles are also acceptable if they are shade 14.

The eclipse will start around 1 p.m. and last until about 4. The peak time when more than 90 percent of the sun is blocked is at 2:30.