Solar Eclipse Can Damage Your Eyes and Irreversibly Hurt Vision
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Staring at Solar Eclipse Can Damage Your Eyes, Loyola Ophthalmologist Warns

MAYWOOD, IL – On Monday, August 21, residents of North America will be treated to a total solar eclipse – the first time the contiguous U.S. will witness a total solar eclipse since 1979.

While the desire may be to stand outside and stare at the rare celestial event, Loyola Medicine ophthalmologist and retina specialist Manthan Shah, MD, warns of the serious potential for permanent damage to the retinas if done improperly.

"The main concern is solar retinopathy, which is damage to the eye when staring directly at the sun," Dr. Shah said. "Looking directly at a solar eclipse is the most common cause of solar retinopathy. The radiation from the sun is so concentrated it damages the retina."

  • While those who experience solar retinopathy don't feel pain from the exposure, they can experience:
  • Difficulty seeing shapes and details of objects
  • Discomfort with bright light
  • A blind spot in your central vision

"In the immediate aftermath, it causes a central visual disturbance," Dr. Shah said. "Most people recover from that, but some can be left with central scotomas (blind spot) and sometimes have permanently decreased visual acuity."

The American Academy of Ophthalmology said it is safe to look at the eclipse when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s face, but viewing even a little of the sun peeking out from behind the moon is enough to cause irreversible damage to your vision. They recommend only viewing the eclipse with specialized eclipse glasses. Normal sunglasses do not protect the eye.

"While the solar eclipse is a rare event to experience, it's best to make sure you view it safely," Dr. Shah said. "Retina damage is a serious consequence."

For more information about the solar eclipse and eye safety, Dr. Shah recommends visiting the resources provided by NASA.

About Loyola Medicine

Loyola Medicine is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC) in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH) in Melrose Park, MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from more than 1,772 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. The medical center campus is also home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. GMH is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments in a convenient community setting. Loyola Medicine is a member of Trinity Health, one of the nation’s largest health systems with 94 hospitals in 22 states.

About Trinity Health

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 93 hospitals, as well as 122 continuing care programs that include PACE, senior living facilities, and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $17.6 billion and assets of $23.4 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity Health employs about 131,000 colleagues, including 7,500 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity Health is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services — ranked by number of visits — in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs. For more information, visit You can also follow @TrinityHealthMI on Twitter.