On Monday, August 21, the U.S. will see its first full solar eclipse spanning from coast to coast in 99 years, and the Optometric community has been actively working to raise awareness about the potential retinal damage that can happen without using safe techniques to view and photograph the eclipse.
Dr. Ralph Chou, Professor Emeritus at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, has been at the forefront of answering questions about eclipse viewing safety for news outlets across the continent. Beyond his career in Vision Science, Dr. Chou is an astronomer and eclipse chaser. He has also been part of a campaign by the American Academy of Optometry and the American Academy of Ophthalmology to raise awareness about the dangers of viewing or photographing the eclipse without proper glasses or filters.
It only takes a brief amount of time for the sun to damage the retina if a person views an eclipse directly. The injury is painless and its effects on vision do not become noticeable until several hours after the retina is injured," said Chou.
Even if the sun is between 80 to 97 per cent covered, viewers still aren’t safe without eye protection designed for this purpose. Those planning on viewing the solar eclipse through a binocular or telescope are also still at risk.
There is a much higher risk when using binoculars or telescopes (without appropriate filters) because your eye is then not only exposed to visible light, but also concentrated infrared light,” said Chou.
Watch this video to see how he has perfected his filming technique.