Vanderbilt Doctors Urging Eye Protection, Warn Of Vision Loss During Eclipse

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) — At Vanderbilt Eye Institute in Nashville, doctors are passing out glasses and spreading the word on how to safely view the eclipse.

“You could have mild injury to the retina that you can recover from completely, or you could have permanent vision loss as a result of this,” said Dr. Nathan Podoll with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“As beautiful as it’s going to be, it’s not worth taking the risk of damaging your eyes permanently,” Podoll said.

Podoll offers the following tips to avoid eye injury:

Wear specially designed eclipse glasses which filter out harmful rays and make it safe to view all phases of the eclipse. Welders glasses, shade 14 or darker, are also acceptable. If you wear prescription glasses, put them over your glasses. Sunglasses will not work. Neither will multiple pairs of sunglasses, or disposable eye wear given out by eye doctors when they dilate your pupils. Podoll explained how to safely put on and remove eclipse glasses.

“Before putting them on, you don’t want to be looking up at sun,” Podoll said. “You’ll want to be looking down. You’ll be placing them on, then you can safety look up at sun. What you’ll see is a mild orange glow. Before you take them off, direct your sight away from the sun. Then you can safely take them off.”

NASA also advises against using an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device while using your eclipse glasses. The agency says the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.

Podoll said the sun won’t be any more harmful the day of the eclipse. The danger is that there’s something of interest happening, so you’re more likely to be looking at the sun. Your reflex to look away is reduced.

“In severe stages there is no good way to repair, regrow or treat a damaged retina,” Podoll added. “The treatment is prevention.”