You don’t want to miss the eclipse. But you also don’t want to look too closely.
As enthusiasm builds for the first total solar eclipse in more than 100 years on Monday, local eye doctors are warning residents in the Dayton area to avoid direct eye contact with the eclipse or risk permanent retina damage.
The solar eclipse will have a 70-mile wide path that will have a brief total eclipse, during which there will be a maybe one minute window where its safe to look but Ohio is not on that path.
Staring at the sun is always risky, but outside of an eclipse event, people typically aren’t looking at the sky and risking damage staring at the sun, said Dr. Amina Husain, with Premier Eye Surgeons.
Even with protective glasses, she said it’s not recommended you look too long at the eclipse.
“You can theoretically burn your retina and potentially go blind and that’s a big complication,” said Husain.
John Weimer, vice president of emergency and trauma services with Kettering Health Network, said the network’s 10 emergency rooms are prepared to assess the severity of any eye injuries that happen during the event and also refer patients to their opthamlogists in the network.
Weimer said the ERs can treat injuries like irritation or can administer pain relief but if there appears to be long term damage, their opthamologists can also see the patients. In general, he said the ER network always prepares for an influx of patients when there’s a major event or large public gathering.
“Particularly with the solar eclipse, it’s been a fair amount of times since we’ve had something like this,” he said.
Dr. Barry Gridley, who practices at Eye Care Locale in downtown Dayton and Wing Eyecare at Austin Landing, said even on a regular day, he still sometimes sees patients with damage from looking right at the sun.
“Your retina is protein and heat fries protein and there’s nothing we can do to restore it,” Gridley said.
In some parts of the country, viewers can briefly look directly at the eclipse for about a minute while the moon crosses the sun. But Ohio is not part of that area, and there won’t be a time to look safely up in the state.
As an alternative, if you were lucky enough to find NASA-approved eclipse viewing glasses in stock, you can wear them to watch the show. A pinhole viewer can also fill in as a low tech way to see what’s happening. And there’s always NASA’s livestream of the eclipse available for free online.