So you went and looked at the full solar eclipse without proper eye protection, and now your vision is blurry, distorted or tinged with red.

What can your eye doctor do about it?

Short answer: Nothing. So don't.

Ophthalmologist Tomas Lopez of Eyecare Associates in Albany and Corvallis met with about two dozen mid-valley eyecare and health care professionals last week to go over information on the Aug. 21 eclipse and possible effects on patients.

While a quick glance probably won't hurt you — and while the sun can't be seen at all if you look directly at the coming eclipse during its two minutes of totality — there's no amount of time to look at the sun that's considered safe, Lopez said. 

And to date, there is no cure for solar retinopathy, which refers to the damage to your retina that direct exposure to the sun can cause. Nor will pain be an indicator: solar retinopathy doesn't usually cause any.

If you're lucky, Lopez said, and you didn't look for long, that blurred or distorted vision might — repeat, might — clear up on its own, although that could be several months down the line.

However, there's no way to say how long of a gaze it takes for damage to become permanent.

And solar retinopathy is capable of causing complete blindness, which is the message the Oregon Optometric Physicians Association is stressing.

“I don’t want people to artificially think, 'Oh, I’ll be fine. It’ll hurt for a while and then my sight will come back.' That's not true," said Janet Baker, the association's executive director. 

"What I am telling people is, it’s still the sun. You wouldn’t look at it today, you don’t look it on Aug. 21.”

Bottom line, eye care professionals say: Use the specially-designed, certified solar eclipse glasses to view the eclipse. They'll bear a tiny picture of a globe with the letters "ISO," the initials CE and a statement that reads, "Conforms to and meets the Transmission Requirements of ISO 12312-2."

Regular sunglasses won't work. Nor will tinfoil, X-ray film, exposed camera film, Mylar balloons or any of the other materials Baker said she keeps hearing about. 

Only a handful of manufacturers make the certified glasses, including Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.

Even if you have the certified glasses, however, don't use them to look at the eclipse through binoculars or a telescope. The concentrated power can hurt your eyes even through the glasses. Binoculars and telescopes with specially designed solar eclipse filters must be used.

"The telescope magnifies the effect of it, and it can go right through the glasses," Lopez said.

The mid-valley is right in the path of totality, when the full shadow of the moon completely blocks the sun.

According to NASA, the moon's shadow will start creeping over the sun about 9 a.m. that Monday. Totality will hit the coast about 10:15 and in the mid-valley area a minute or two later. 

But all of Oregon will experience at least a partial eclipse, so businesses and health care organizations are working to make sure plenty of the glasses will be available before Aug. 21. 

In Lebanon, the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center has already given out "several hundred" pairs of safety glasses to Lebanon students in kindergarten through fifth grade who were to have received coupons before school ended (if yours didn't, contact the district office at 541-451-8511). 

The chamber also has glasses available for purchase for $2 per pair. 

If nothing else, viewers can watch the shadow cross the sun by sticking a pinhole in a paper plate and letting the beams stream through the tiny hole onto a piece of paper or a screen on the wall. There, you can see the shadow gradually biting into the disc of the sun until it's swallowed completely.

It's worth seeing, Baker said. For this area, it's pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“Watch it. It’s a wonderful experience," she encouraged. "Just watch it safely.”


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