What happens if you watch the solar eclipse without approved glasses?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s important to wear approved glasses while you watch the solar eclipse on August 21st.

But what will happen to your eyes if you try to watch the eclipse without these approved glasses?

We spoke to an ophthalmologist at VisionFirst Eye Center in Birmingham to find out.

“It’s never safe to look directly at the sun, even if it’s obscured by clouds. But a lot of people will be looking up during the solar eclipse. If you aren’t wearing protective glasses, or looking through a solar filter, you could do serious damage to your eyes,” explained Dr. Mark McClintock.

Related | Eye on Eclipse: How to find certified solar eclipse glasses

McClintock is an optometrist at VisionFirst Eye Center in Trussville. He says damage can be done to your retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue in the back of your eye. 

“If you look at it for a short period of time, it can cause intermittent change in your vision. But if you look at it for an extensive period, there can be some long-term damage,” McClintock advised.

Related | Libraries giving away free solar eclipse glasses

Too much exposure to the sun’s rays, like for a few seconds, can cause swelling, but scarring and blind spots in your vision can result if you look at it for longer periods.

Solar eclipses can be especially dangerous since we will all want to watch for as long as possible.

Related | Where to watch the total solar eclipse

“When you look at a solar eclipse, there’s a lot of darkening, yet you can still get the same amount of radiation, and there’s where your damage comes from,” McClintock concluded.

VisionFirst will have eclipse viewing parties at their several locations across central Alabama. Click here to find the viewing party nearest you. 

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