Wednesday, July 19, 2017
The Mid-Willamette Valley sits right in the path of this August’s total solar eclipse and offers a once in a lifetime experience.
But don’t let a few careless minutes of viewing this spectacle leave you with a lifetime of regret.
About the author
Dr. Scott Stice performs eye procedures, including cataract surgery, at West Valley Hospital on the fourth Monday of each month in the afternoon.
Dr. Stice graduated from Wake Forest University in North Carolina in 1988 and completed his medical doctorate and internal medicine internship at the Medical University of South Carolina. His residency and associateship followed at the University of Iowa, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. He joined Eye Care Physicians & Surgeons in 2000 and is an active member of the Salem medical community serving previously as president of the Marion Polk Medical Society.
He spends his extracurricular time coaching youth sports, assisting local scouting programs and traveling with his wife and sons.
For an appointment with Dr. Stice, call 503-585-2022, or fax a physician referral to 503-566-3734.
Solar filter glasses
Gazing directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes.
The only safe way to look at the sun or eclipse is with special solar filters.
Solar filter glasses are 100,000 times darker than normal sunglasses, so don’t be surprised if you can’t see the house across the street.
Five manufacturers to date have NASA-certified solar filter glasses or viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2, the international standard for safe direct viewing of an eclipse, for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, TSE 17 and Baader Planetarium.
Filters should be inspected for scratches or damage and thrown out if damaged. Only use eclipse glasses when you are viewing the sun during an eclipse. They are not made for full sun intensity.
Viewing the eclipse with filtered optical devices can be fun too, but seek professional advice from an astronomer.
Never view the sun through an unfiltered camera, binoculars, telescope or other optical device.
Doing so can cause immediate and severe retinal burns.
Those seeking all the details can find them on the American Astronomical Society website or in this document, titled “How to View the 2017 Solar Eclipse Safely.”
The main concern over improper viewing of the sun is solar retinopathy, better known as “eclipse blindness,” when high intensity, visible light causes retinal burns.
The retina is a light-sensitive tissue situated in the rear of the eye. When sunlight is focused toward the retina, its cells can burn, resulting in poor vision.
You can go blind if you look straight at the sun.
The sun’s harmful radiation can lead to permanent damage to the retina even after a second of sun gazing.
A few moments of unfiltered sun gazing can lead to painless damage to the retinal photoreceptors and thermal burns that may not be visually apparent until several hours after the damage is done.
If you think you’ve damaged your eyes, contact a local ophthalmologist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
While there is no specific therapy for eclipse blindness, an ophthalmologist may have treatment that could help relieve some symptoms, depending on the severity.
Again, the only way to prevent eclipse blindness is through preparation and use of sun filters.
Remember that children and young adults are at the greatest risk for sustaining eye injury during eclipse viewing, but they also have the most to gain in this incredible natural phenomenon.
This event could begin a lifetime of science adventure so help them acquire the opportunity and assistance needed in order to view the eclipse safely.
And have fun out there.