Optometrist urges caution when looking at solar eclipse

Eclipse viewing glasses. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If you’re planning to take part in a viewing of the solar eclipse next week, you want to make sure you’re doing it safely.

Local optometrists said you don’t want to take the risk of damaging your eyes.

People in central Indiana will only get to see a partial eclipse, but even that can be dangerous if you don’t have the necessary protection.

“Don’t think you can get away with it because it can happen to you,” said Dr. Penn Moody, who runs Moody Eyes.

The anticipation is building for people who have been waiting to see the total solar eclipse or partial eclipse in central Indiana. But doctors said you want to do so with caution.

“You want to make sure you get glasses that are designed for this and there are two criteria that NASA came up with one is the code that’s on it and two it has to have the address of the manufacturer,” Moody said.

Moody is an optometrist with more than 40 years of experience. He runs a practice on Southpoint Drive in Greenwood.

“I’ve had a few patients over the years who had eclipse burns on their retina and they don’t go away,” he said.

Moody warns the damage can be very serious if you look at the eclipse without protection or wearing the wrong glasses.

“One is the irritation of the cornea or keratosis which is less severe and usually is transient and the other is retinal damage which can be permanent and cause permanent damage and loss of vision,” he explained.

He said don’t think you can get away with wearing your everyday sunglasses either.

“One of the things that some people misunderstand is that sunglasses including ultraviolet sunglasses do not work,” he said. “They’re not adequate so it has to be a special lens or special protection for that.”

Moody said there’s another thing you want to keep in mind when it comes to taking pictures with your cellphone.

The doctor hopes people know “you can’t look through a camera taking picture of it.”

He is concerned people using their cellphones to take pictures of the eclipse will think they are protected — and they are not. “One of the issues to me (is that ) people will think, well, if I look through the cellphone, then I’m OK — and you’re not because the cellphone will actually focus on it and your retina can cause as even much or more damage.”

For parents who are planning to watch the eclipse with their young children, Moody said you want to pay extra attention to them.

“One of the biggest things for kids you know they don’t pay attention all the time,” he said. “You know the parent could be looking and the kids glasses could fall off or something.”

If possible, the doctor recommends doing a practice run with your kids before the big event or let them watch the eclipse first.

“I would suggest if you’re going to have children look at it that you don’t pay attention to the eclipse and pay attention to the children and then let them go back inside and then you look so you really protect yourself and them,” he said.

Moody Eyes is also offering free glasses for the eclipse next Monday morning at three of its locations: 8936 Southpointe Drive, Greenwood, and two Indianapolis locations at 50 S. Meridian St., Suite 103, and 3909 E. 82nd St.

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