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Mark your Calendars!!! On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible across the entire continental United States.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun, and with this one, all of North America will experience at least a partial eclipse lasting 2 to 3 hours.

A lucky few million people along a 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse when the moon completely blocks the sun for up to 2 minutes. For that 2 minutes or so it will look like nighttime along that path.

This total eclipse will make the solar corona visible, and stars and the planets may also be visible during this time.

But looking directly at the sun before it is covered is unsafe. Although there is a limited chance of eye damage if you are in the proper area during the total eclipse it is not worth the risk of retinal damage to even take a quick look at the eclipse if it is not “total”.

A large part of the country is not along the pathway where the eclipse will be total so you should not look at the sun without protection.

The only safe way to look directly at the eclipse is through special solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers.

Ordinary sunglasses, even if they are very dark and polarized, are not safe for looking at the sun. To date, four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

All the companies above have instructions printed on or packaged with their filters. You MUST follow the instructions to keep your eyes safe. Always supervise children using solar filters.

Specific instructions are found below, courtesy of NASA’s eclipse website https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety:

1. Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter - do not remove it while looking at the sun.

2. Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical devices. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer - the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.

3. A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime. An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won't want to miss, but you must carefully follow safety procedures. Don't let the warnings scare you away from witnessing this singular spectacle! You can experience the eclipse safely, but it is vital that you protect your eyes at all times with the proper solar filters. No matter what recommended technique you use, do not stare continuously at the sun. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest! Do not use sunglasses: they don't offer your eyes sufficient protection. One excellent resource for safe solar eclipse viewing is here: https://www.nasa.gov/content/eye-safety-during-a-total-solar-eclipse.

The solar eclipse is a spectacular sight but please remember to watch it safely.

 

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided on this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Is making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam for your children on your back-to-school checklist? It needs to be.

No amount of new clothes, backpacks or supplies will help your child succeed in school if they have an undetected vision problem. 

The difference between eye exams and vision screenings

An annual exam done by an eye doctor is more focused than a visual screening done at school. School screenings are simply "pass-fail tests" that are often limited to measuring a child’s sight clarity and visual acuity up to a distance of 20 feet. But this can provide a false sense of security.

There are important differences between a screening and a comprehensive eye exam.

Where a screening tests only for visual acuity, comprehensive exams will test for acuity, chronic diseases, color vision and make sure the eyes are working together properly. This means a child may pass a vision screening at school because they are able to see the board, but they may not be able to see the words in the textbook in front of them.

Why back-to-school eye exams matter

Did you know that 1 out of 4 children has an undiagnosed vision problem because changes in their eyesight go unrecognized? 

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common condition in children and often develops around the ages of 6 or 7. And nearsightedness can change very quickly, especially between the ages of 11 and 13, which means that an eye prescription can change rapidly over a short period of time. That’s why annual checkups are important.

Comprehensive eye exams can detect other eye conditions. Some children may have good distance vision but may struggle when reading up close. This is known as hyperopia or farsightedness. Other eye issues such as strabismus (misaligned eyes), astigmatism or amblyopia (lazy eye) are also detectable. 

Kids may not tell you they're having visions issues or even realize it. They may simply think everyone sees the same way they do. Kids often give indirect clues, such as holding books or device screens close to their face, having problems recalling what they've read, or avoiding reading altogether. Other signs could include a short attention span, frequent headaches, seeing double, rubbing their eyes or tilting their head to the side.

What to expect at your child's eye exam

Before the exam, explain that eye exams aren’t scary, and can be fun. A kid-friendly eye exam is quick for your child. After the doctor tests how she sees colors and letters using charts with pictures, shapes, and patterns, we will give you our assessment of your child’s eyes. 

If your child needs to wear glasses, we can even recommend frames and lenses best for their needs.

Set your child up for success

Staying consistent with eye exams is important because it can help your kids see their best in the classroom and when playing sports. Better vision can also mean better confidence because they are able see well. 

Because learning is so visual, making an eye examination a priority every year is an important investment you can make in your child's education. You should also be aware that your health insurance might cover pediatric eye exams.

With clearer vision, help make this school year their best ever!

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