(WOWT) - Metro optometrists are concerned about a potential post-eclipse influx of patients with permanent eye damage who might disregard warnings about looking directly into the sun.
Omaha optometrist Dr. Robert Vandervort told WOWT 6 News: "We will probably see an influx of patients and it will be sad."
With the path of the solar eclipse running right through the Heartland, Dr. Vandervort wants everyone to know staring at any light from the sun - even during the eclipse - will cause irreversible eye damage. He said: "Your central vision that you really care about would be destroyed."
The damage happens deep inside the eye - in the retina. Just a minute or two of direct exposure to the sun's harmful rays causes permanent burns. Vandevort said: "You lose your ability to recognize people's faces, to read, and just detailed vision."
In Millard, optometrist Dr. Ellen Weiss is warning her patients that the only wan to look directly at the eclipse is through NASA-approved safety glasses or safety film. She said: "It blocks the rays from going in and burning the retina."
According to Dr. Weiss, welding masks and dark sunglasses do not block enough harmful rays. Many optometrists, like Dr. Weiss, are ordering hundreds of safety glasses so their patients can safely enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime sight.
Both Dr. Weiss and Dr. Vandervort told WOWT 6 News the ONLY time anyone can look directly at the eclipse without eye protection is when the moon completely covers the sun and the sky is totally dark. However, that period will only last for a few minutes and will only happen in the total eclipse zone. Omaha is outside of that zone, so anyone watching the eclipse from the Metro will need eye protection the entire time.
The American Astronomical Society has a list of national retail chains where NASA-approved safety glasses are for sale. That list includes: 7-Eleven, Best Buy, Casey's General Store, Hobby Town, Lowe's, and Walmart. However, not every location is guaranteed to sell safety glasses.
For more information on safety glasses: CLICK HERE