As Louisianans gear up to watch the upcoming solar eclipse, doctors remind the public to do so safely. On August 21, a total solar eclipse will pass over the country from Oregon to South Carolina. Executive Director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana Dr. James Sandifer says in Louisiana, only a partial eclipse will be visible, which is why it’s so important for viewers to protect their eyes.
“It would be a mistake for people in Louisiana to think that because we’re only seeing a partial eclipse that they could look at it with the naked eye or with regular sunglasses,” Sandifer said, “They can receive the same damage as looking directly at the sun.”
Sandifer says the only safe way to view the partial eclipse is with approved eclipse glasses. He says looking directly at the sun can damage or destroy the photoreceptors in the retina. He says that can cause permanent damage to the eye.
“These photoreceptors are nerve cells, which do not reproduce. If they are damaged or destroyed, they don’t come back. They’re gone forever,” Sandifer said.
Regular sunglasses won’t work for this eclipse. They must be much darker to view the sun. Sandifer says people should make sure their glasses are authentic because there’s been reports of knock-off eclipse glasses being sold online.
“You can find those type of glasses at the American Astronomical Society’s website. They have a list of reputable vendors of solar lenses and viewers,” Sandifer said.
Sandifer says many of their members are giving away genuine viewing glasses on a first come, first serve basis. Call your optometrist to see if any are available.