Unless you live in a pineapple under the sea, you were likely aware of the solar eclipse last week on August 21st, 2017. As the eclipse approached, and even during it, there were many warnings to not stare at the sun. NASA-approved eyewear was provided to almost everyone who wanted to see the eclipse. For me, my work building was handing the eyewear out for free. Thanks to this, I was able to experience the eclipse without damaging my eyes. And I was enamored with the sun and the moon and the stars. My love for everything science grew that day.
There was still a concern for people not listening and looking at the sun anyways. Some people may have thought since the moon was mostly blocking the sun that perhaps the sun wouldn’t do as much damage. This is, of course, false. But I never imagined people would put sunscreen on their eyeballs in order to avoid sun damage to their eyes.
Doctors in California and Virginia reported patients complaining of applying sunscreen to their eyes. These individuals applied the sunscreen because they didn’t have the NASA-approved eyewear.
“One of my colleagues at moonlight here stated yesterday that they had patients presenting at their clinic that put sunscreen on their eyeball, and presented that they were having pain and they were referred to an ophthalmologist,” Trish Patterson, a nurse at Prestige Urgent Care in Redding, Calif., said.
It only takes seconds of staring directly at the sun to cause lasting damage to the retina. Please do not apply sunscreen to your eyeballs. If you don’t have the appropriate eyewear to look at the sun, don’t look at the sun. I’m hoping for future eclipses that we can learn from these situations and practice better sun safety techniques.
Did you see the eclipse? If so, I hope you were safe about it. Post up your pictures of the eclipse if you have any!
The next solar eclipse for North America will be April 8, 2024. Plan accordingly!