Be Safe for the
“Great American Eclipse”
It is the first total solar eclipse to travel from coast to coast since 1918!
In Colchester and Hebron, CT,
a partial eclipse (85%)
will be most visible
just after 2:30pm.
A letter from Dr. Dempsey
Mid-summer greetings, everybody!
I am quite sure that every one of us is aware of the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21 (next week!).
Please, please use extreme caution on Monday!
I understand we are all very curious about viewing the solar eclipse, and that they are so few and far between, but there are very serious risks, including temporary and permanent vision loss, if viewed directly.
Patients, family, and friends have been asking what I, as an optometrist, recommend. My original answer was protect yourself properly, and view only very briefly or indirectly.
Honestly, upon further research, and considering the stakes are so critically high, my current recommendation is to watch the eclipse on video or on a TV broadcast.
I do realize how disappointing this news is to most of you.
However, think about the following:
Being less than totally safe during the eclipse comes with the following very serious consequences: Any accidental or intentional exposure can, indeed, result in permanent vision loss. Unlike staring up at the sun on a regular day, it will not be uncomfortable, or intolerable, to stare at the sun during the eclipse on Monday, August 21st. Even a brief look, underprotected, can burn your retina and result in temporary or permanent damage to your precious eyesight. There are no pain receptors located in the retina to warn you of damage to your eyes. Your retina does not know how to say “ouch”…it only knows how to say “light”.
The NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses are, indeed, thought to be safe. However, even using those, I have some concerns. By far, my biggest concern is improper use, especially by children. The glasses are one size only, so, essentially, designed for adults. Please make sure children are fully supervised during the eclipse. These specially designed glasses contain filters that block everything except the crescent light of the sun. It will be extremely tempting to peek around the glasses to see, without a filter, what is going on. It feels natural to look up to see what is occurring, but can result in irreversible central blind spots. Please don’t do it, and be sure to prevent your kids from doing so!
And what if, by some miniscule chance, your pair, or your child’s, is defective in any slight way?
I would also be extremely cautious about all the knock-off eclipse glasses available. Here is a link to the list of approved glasses:
Of course, other ”regular” sunglasses, of any sort, are completely unsafe and will not protect you!
Here are links to alternative viewing methods, as well as a link to the dangers of viewing the eclipse:
Risks from viewing solar eclipse:
People often ask, in the exam room, regarding a variety of topics, what I would do myself, or have my family do…In this case, as always, I will err on the side of caution, and have them watch on TV, perhaps allowing a brief peek or two, with one eye open at a time, through the NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses.
If you have any questions, please contact Colchester Eye Care (860) 537-2020 or Hebron Eye Care (860) 228-2020, and I will be happy to get you an answer. I sincerely hope not to see anyone on August 22nd with blurry vision or a blind spot. Having said that, if you suspect either of these in any way, please call immediately.
Stay safe, all. Monday’s solar eclipse is a spectacular event…Your vision, your retina, your macula, and your child’s, is an infinitely more spectacular gift, one that must be protected and preserved for a lifetime.
– Dr. Thomas Dempsey
Colchester Eye Care, LLC
Hebron Eye Care, LLC