Monday’s solar eclipse promises to be one of the biggest events in years for Orangeburg County, which is a prime location in South Carolina to see a phenomenon.
The partial phase of the eclipse is expected to begin around 1:14 p.m. with the sun to be totally blacked at 2:43 p.m.
While no one wants to dampen enthusiasm, there remains real reason to worry about the Monday aftermath. The American Optometric Association warns that millions of people from Oregon to South Carolina are facing the danger of eye damage when the moon covers part of the sun.
Viewing the eclipse without proper eye protection when the sun is partially blocked, right up to the point when the eclipse is nearing totality, will do damage to the human eye. If safety is not stressed, how many people will look without protection at varying stages because the everyday inability to look at the sun is not a factor for a period of up to two hours?
We worry that many will.
Reporting for Space.com, Hanneke Weitering writes that eclipse blindness may not even be realized until the day after when people wake to discover their vision has become impaired.
While peripheral vision is usually spared, the center of vision is affected because that is the part of the retina responsible for seeing in high resolution and in color. Most patients are legally blind when they go to see an eye doctor.
Weitering reports the prognosis is nearly impossible to determine. About half will recover full vision in six months. The other half either partially recover or are stuck with the problem for the rest of their lives.
So how will you know if you’ve been a victim? The Charlotte Observer reports experts saying it could take days before symptoms show up, but early signs could include “dim” sight and afterimages.
PreventBlindness.org says victims may also experience sensitivity to light, eye pain or loss of vision in one or both eyes. Other indications include the loss of central vision, distorted vision and altered color vision.
The key to seeing the eclipse during the partial phase is to use approved glasses meeting the international standard ISO 12312-2. When the sun is totally blocked, however, nothing will be visible with the glasses. That leaves people to decide whether they wish to gamble on totality, when viewing with the naked eye is OK.
Considering that one’s eyes are invaluable, it’s a decision each individual will have to make. Even blocked at 99.9 percent, the sun’s light will damage eyes.
Eyewear for viewing the eclipse is not expensive and is available at events and stores locally. But, again, what about people having no glasses or not even being aware of what is happening until the eclipse is unfolding?
Eye professionals expect to be busy in the days after Aug. 21.