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    Top 5 ways to help your patients safely view the solar eclipse

    On Monday, August 21, 2017, star gazers and sky watchers worldwide will have their eyes fixed to the sky as they try to catch a glimpse of the Great American Solar Eclipse—the first of its kind since June 8, 1918. This year’s total solar eclipse roughly follows the same path as the one in 1918 crossing the U.S. from Washington state to Florida.

    Viewing the solar eclipse is a rare, exciting experience, but patients should be warned of the dangers they face if they don’t view it with the appropriate tools.

    “The first rule is that this is a potentially dangerous event,” says Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board Member Leo Semes, OD, FAAO. “It could cause permanent damage to the eye.”

    Solar retinopathy, or photic retinopathy, can occur when a person stares at the sun, causing damage to the retinal tissue at the fovea and resulting in a mild-to-moderate visual acuity deficit and central or paracentral scotoma.

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    "Eclipse retinopathy is a unique form of solar retinopathy that results from retinal and macular damage sustained during solar eclipse viewing," says James F. Hill, OD, FAAO, of Johns Island, SC. "Damage from solar retinopathy can occur without any feeling of pain and the visual effects are not noticed for several hours after the damage has been done. There is no treatment for solar retiopathy."

    Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member Dori Carlson, OD, FAAO, has seen a patient with eye damage caused by viewing a solar eclipse with no eye protection.

    “Before I had a retinal camera or an optical coherence tomography (OCT), I had an older female patient with best corrected vision of 20/30,” says Dr. Carlson. “She had a strange crescent-shaped scar in the macula of each eye. When I talked to her about it, she told me she had watched a solar eclipse without eye protection when she was a little girl and her vision was never as good after that event.”

    With stories like the one from Dr. Carlson and the media and public in a frenzy over this year’s historic event, Optometry Times sought out methods to see the eclipse, along with tips to view it safely.

    Here are the top five ways to advise your patients on how to view the total solar eclipse from their own backyards using direct or indirect viewing.

    Click here for the top 5 ways to help your patients safely view the solar eclipse

    Giovanni Castelli
    Giovanni Castelli is the content specialist for Optometry Times. He is a 2014 graduate of Cleveland State University with a degree in ...

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