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Don’t Burn Your Retinas Watching the Sun

solar retinopathyViewing the sun at any time can result in lifelong damage to the retina. This is true of anyone who sun-gazes during the upcoming eclipse on August 21st, according to the ophthalmologists at Tulsa Retina Consultants.

“Caution is the keyword,” said Dr. Lars Freisberg. “We have patients who have permanent vision loss from sun exposure that occurred years ago.”

Solar Retinopathy is the medical term for damage that occurs when the retina is literally burned by the sun. The effects range from temporary vision loss and residual blurring to permanent blind spots.

In the Tulsa area only a partial eclipse will occur, but the danger is not lessened. “Even a slight crescent sun, visible around the side of the moon, will transmit enough light to scorch your retina,” said Freisberg.

Dr. Thomas Finley of Tulsa Retina Consultants said, “Damage can occur after only a few seconds of sun gazing, but won’t be immediately noticeable because the retina doesn’t have any pain fibers.” Symptoms show up only hours later.

The safest way to view the sun is to use a pinhole viewer. In this indirect manner, the eyes are never exposed to direct sunlight.

So-called “eclipse” glasses fully compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard may provide adequate protection IF WORN CORRECTLY. But glasses sometimes slip down or fly off, or users take them off and forget to put them back on. Both Freisberg and Finley stated, “We do not recommend their use by children, the elderly, or anyone with existing eye problems.”

“Once retina tissue is destroyed, it is lost forever,” said Dr. Justin Parschauer. “Why risk irreversible damage by looking directly at the sun?”

The best treatment is prevention, but if you do experience vision problems after the eclipse, be sure to visit the region’s largest group of retina specialists at Tulsa Retina Consultants as soon as possible. The doctors here have many years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of retinal problems like:

  • diabetic retinopathy;
  • retinal detachment;
  • macular degeneration;
  • macular holes and puckers;
  • eye flashes and floaters;
  • uveitis;
  • retinal vein occlusion.

Our physicians are members of the American Society of Retina Specialists and we provide links to their special safety edition entitled “Don’t Get Burned by the 2017 Great American Eclipse.”

html: https://www.asrs.org/patients/retinal-diseases/special-safety-edition-2017-great-american-eclipse

pdf : https://www.asrs.org/content/documents/fact-sheet-31-solar-retinopathy-new.pdf

Tulsa Retina Consultants, located at 2424 E 21st street in midtown Tulsa is committed to setting the bar for retina care throughout northeast Oklahoma. Earlier this summer, they became only the third practice in the United States offering cutting-edge treatment via the Navilas 577s laser.

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