The Science Behind Eye Damage From Solar Eclipses

Solar Eclipses

For those who don’t know, a solar eclipse transpires when a part of the Earth is covered in a shadow cast by the Moon, which partially or fully blocks sunlight. This occurs when the Moon, Sun, and Earth are aligned. Such arrangement concurs with a new moon indicating the Moon is nearest to the ecliptic plane. In a typical total eclipse, the Sun’s disk is entirely covered by the Moon. In annular and partial eclipses, only part of the Sun is covered.

What does Solar Eclipse do to our eyes?

Scientists have proven that staring at our Sun with our naked eyes during a Solar Eclipse can burn our retina, damaging the images our brain can observe.

This phenomenon, known to the modern world as ‘eclipse blindness,’ can cause permanent or temporary vision impairment. It can also lead to legal blindness, which means a significant vision loss in the individual staring at the Sun during Solar Eclipse without protection.

There are no quick pain or symptoms associated with the eye damage — the retina doesn’t have pain receptors — so it is difficult to know at the time if you’ve really been afflicted with total eclipse blindness. If you stare at the Sun unfiltered, you may instantly notice a dazzling effect or a stare the way you would from any sharp object, but that doesn’t fundamentally mean your retina is broken. According to doctors and researchers, symptoms usually begin occurring around 12 hours after staring at the eclipse, when affected individuals wake up in the morning and notice their vision has been completely altered.

Why does this happen?

During the actual eclipse, nothing happens when the overlapping is ideally perfect. The problem begins when the Moon moves out of the way, and the Sun gradually comes back.

When you are staring at the Sun during the eclipse immediately before and or shortly after Totality, even when just 4% of the Sun’s disk is noticeable, it is still too bright to stare at without danger of damaging a crescent shaped spot on your retinas, creating permanent blind spots in your eyes.

In other words, when the Moon moves away from the Sun after the total eclipse, the rays coming from the Sun are so extreme and bright that it penetrates our retina and irreversibly burns/damages it. Ordinary dark sunglasses are Not dark enough to protect your eyes in this case because the sunglasses fail to stop this bright light from penetrating our eyes and destroying them.

Use Welders Glass or special Mylar glasses specially made for eclipse-watching.

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