Protect eyesight during solar eclipse

Kelowna optometrist warns of danger staring up at Aug. 21 solar eclipse .

A Kelowna optometrist has some eye protection advice for anyone planning to watch the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.

Dr. Paul Clark says there are serious risks associated with viewing an eclipse directly, even with the use of solar filter eyewear.

Clark says if not used “absolutely perfectly” or if there is a manufacturing defect in solar filter glasses, it could result in permanent vision loss.

“Just like sunburn to the skin, the effects are not felt or noticed immediately,” said Clark.

“I have a great fear that I will have patients in my office on Tuesday, Aug. 22, who woke up with hazy, blurry vision that I cannot fix.”

“There is absolutely no safe way to watch the eclipse other than on television.”

A solar eclipse is a type of eclipse that occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth where the moon fully or partially blocks the sun.

Clark notes that when the eclipse passes over the Central Okanagan, the moon will block about 80 per cent of the sun.

Because the moon is blocking the sun’s light, the pain of staring at the sun on a normal day is reduced.

“During an eclipse, however, it is easier to stare for a bit, but even less than 30 seconds of exposure to less than 10 per cent of the eclipsed sun can burn a blind spot to your central vision,” Clark said.

Clark is worried that children could have a tendency to take a peak at the eclipse without any visual protection.

“As Kelowna is not in the path of (eclipse) totality, there will be no time when it is safe to view the eclipse without the filter glasses.”