Amid the excitement surrounding the Great American Total Solar Eclipse, one man is speaking out about the possible dangers of viewing the celestial event. A man whose retina was burned at the 1962 eclipse warns of the risks 55 years after his own experience with eclipse-related eye damage.
1962 Solar Eclipse
In 1962, Lou Tomososki and his friend Roger Duval were among those who enjoyed the spectacle of watching a solar eclipse. He was walking home from Marshall High School in Oregon when the solar eclipse happened and with people being all excited about the event in the weeks leading to it, the boys joined in.
However, after looking at the eclipse without proper eclipse glasses for a few seconds, both experienced seeing flashes of light much like what one would see when a photograph is taken. By the time he and his friend were walking home, both had noticed blurry spots in their vision.
"We both got burned at the same time. He got the left eye and I got the right eye," said Tomososki, now 71-years of age.
Laser In The Wrong Place
Years later during a check-up, his doctor immediately recognized the signs and asked him if he looked at a solar eclipse. When he said yes, the doctor joked that he got laser surgery on his eye even before it was developed, except it was done in the wrong spot, and that he did it for too long.
According to Tomososki, he and his friend looked at the solar eclipse for merely 20 seconds. As a result, Tomososki now states that he had been living with a blind spot at the center of his eye for the last 55 years. He is unable to read properly with his right eye.
Proper Eclipse Equipment
For months now, NASA, as well as other agencies have not been lacking in warning people to get the proper equipment to view the rare total solar eclipse without damaging the eyes. In fact, even those who have already bought their eclipse glasses are still warned to check if they are safe and certified.
Back in 1962, people, including Tomososki and Duval were advised by a science teacher to use pinhole cardboard to view the eclipse. Unfortunately, Tomososki and Duval did not use one, which led to lifelong eye damage.
In an interview, Tomososki advises people to not look directly at the sun during the upcoming total solar eclipse, and to just enjoy the sudden darkness in the middle of the day. However, safely enjoying the view is possible with proper solar eclipse glasses.
Although it is said to be safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye only during the few second duration of its totality, perhaps Lou Tomososki's warning is an important reminder of the possible damage our eyes can sustain.