On August 21st, we will experience our first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years. The eclipse will begin around 1:22 p.m. in New York, reaching its peak around 2:44 p.m. and coming to completion at approximately 4:00 p.m.
We will not experience the total phase of this solar eclipse, but a partial phase will be observable should weather allow. The Hudson Valley ophthalmologists at Seeta Eye Centers encourage you to step outside during the eclipse, even though we won’t have a complete blacking out of the sun, to enjoy this once in a lifetime chance. But be careful, failure to protect your eyes can result in solar retinopathy, a condition that may permanently impact visual acuity.
About Solar Retinopathy
Solar retinopathy can occur when UV rays are allowed to enter the retina. This painless condition may result in:
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision
- Loss of central vision
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Distorted vision
- Changes to contrast and color
- Severe headache
Solar retinopathy can occur from staring at the sun without proper eye protection. The condition is self-correcting – typically within four to six months – but complete visual acuity may never fully return.
Solar eclipses are not the only time this condition is possible. In fact, solar retinopathy can be a result of too much time in the sun under any circumstances. During an eclipse, however, longer periods of sun watching are common, increasing risks for this vision disorder.
Viewing the Eclipse Safely in Upstate New York
To protect your eyes from solar retinopathy, it is best to wear eclipse glasses. Choosing the right kind of glasses is essential though, and not all sunglasses marked “eclipse glasses” are capable of delivering on their promise of full UV protection.
Make sure you get your eclipse glasses from an ophthalmologist and that those glasses:
- Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
- Are less than three years old
- Have no wrinkles or scratches
- Have the manufacturer’s information printed on them
Incomplete UV protection increases risks for solar retinopathy by increasing pupil size without preventing harmful rays from entering the retina. As with any pair of sunglasses, it is vital that your solar eclipse sunglasses have full UVA/UVB protection to prevent serious and potentially permanent vision changes.
What if I Can’t Find Eclipse Glasses?
If you are having a hard time finding eclipse sunglasses you can still view the eclipse, but you’ll want to do so through a pinhole camera (solar viewer). Click here for step-by-step instructions to create your very own and keep reading below our blog for a useful infographic from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Astronomical Society.
What not to do When Viewing the Solar Eclipse in New York
To protect your eyes, make sure you do not:
- Look at the sun without eclipse glasses or a solar viewer
- Look at the sun through an unfiltered optical device, camera, telescope, or binoculars
- Place an unfiltered optical device, telescope, camera, or binoculars over your eclipse sunglasses or solar viewer
Because we will not experience totality, there will be no point at which it is safe to view this eclipse without protective eyewear. However, the entire eclipse, from start to finish, can be viewed with appropriate glasses. Call our office at 845-454-1025 to learn more.
Seeta Eye Centers has been serving Hudson Valley communities for nearly five decades and remains committed to providing the highest level of patient care and customer service in our industry. If you are looking for an eye doctor or if you are considering LASIK, PRK, cataract surgery, or any other ophthalmological service, give us a call to schedule an appointment at our Fishkill or Poughkeepsie office today.