skip to main content

Kids at Highest Risk for Viewing Eclipse | Signs of Solar Retinopathy

August 20, 2017

Solar Eclipse Causes Retina Damage | Protect Eyes from Solar Retinopathy | Whitten Laser EyeDr. Rose was recently interviewed by Kristi King of WTOP.  She talks about the dangers of the Great American Eclipse of 2017 and why children are at highest risk from losing vision by directly looking at the sun.

The total eclipse of the sun is unusual in the United States.  The last total eclipse of the sun in the United States occurred in 1918.  The last total eclipse actually occurred in Indonesia in 2016.  The next total eclipse of the sun will be in South America (July, 2019).

Solar Retinopathy Burns Retina

Direct sunlight can burn your retina by causing a photochemical reaction resulting in potentially permanent loss of vision.  Solar retinopathy is painless.  The sun directly destroys the rods and cones of your retina.

Symptoms of solar retinopathy include:

  • fuzzy vision
  • pain when looking at bright lights
  • blind spots in your central vision
  • tearing when looking at bright lights
  • distortion
  • gray vision/decreased color perception
  • both eyes

Children Most at Risk

Younger people are more likely to sustain damage from looking at the sun.  Childrens' pupils are bigger and the lens of the eye is crystal clear.

Larger pupils let more light into the eye.  A child's pupil dilates (gets bigger) in the absence of light.  The lens of the eye is normally crystal clear in a child, whereas, cataracts (natural age related clouding of the lens) can absorb some of the damaging light.

Watching The Eclipse Safely

There are two ways to watch the eclipse.

Directly viewing the eclipse requires use of certified ISO filters.  These filters are found in authentic "eclipse glasses" and solar viewers.  ISO compliant filters are 1000s of times stronger than even the best sunglasses.

Sunglasses offer no protection when directly viewing the sun.

Indirectly viewing the eclipse is the safest way to avoid eye damage.  Building an pinhole camera is a cheap and safe way to indirectly view the solar event.

A kitchen colander or simply criss-crossing your hands can simulate a pinhole camera, too.

The total eclipse of the sun is a "once in a lifetime" event and Whitten Laser Eye shares this information with you to make sure you protect your eyes as you watch this astronomical wonder.

Protect and maintain the health of your eyes at all times!

More on the Solar Eclipse from Whitten Laser Eye

If you are interested in scheduling a consultation for laser vision correction or a routine examination, please call us (301.825.5755).  My team and I look forward to meeting you.

Mark Whitten, M.D.
Vision Correction Surgeon
LASIK, Cataract & Raindrop

Shilpa Rose, M.D.
Vision Correction & Dry Eye Specialist

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. 

These are surgical procedures and results may vary. While infrequent, complications can occur. Before your procedure, you will read an Informed Consent document which discusses potential complications and risks. Dr. Whitten will thoroughly review this information with you and answer your questions.