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Doctor shares how to protect your eyes when viewing the eclipse

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Posted at 3:39 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-19 16:16:26-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Next month’s total solar eclipse will be a once in a lifetime experience, but a local eye doctor is urging Hoosiers to protect their eyes when they look to the skies.

Ascention St. Vincent ophthalmologist Dr. Elizabeth L. Groves-Egan said staring at the sun causes permanent damage to the macula, the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision.

"It can cause solar retinopathy," Groves-Egan said. "It's scar tissue that develops in your macula."

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Dr. Elizabeth L. Groves-Egan

She said the scarring typically causes two blind spots in the center of a patient's vision.

"We don't know any way to fix it," Groves-Egan said. "Once the damage is done, it's done. The key is prevention, you have to prevent it."

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The doctor said anyone viewing the eclipse should wear a good pair of American Academy of Ophthalmology-approved eclipse glasses.

“So like sunglasses or grandma's cataract glasses are not going to work," Groves-Egan said. "You don't want to be purchasing them on the internet with pop-up ads because a lot of times you can't verify that those are correct lenses."

She said you can test your glasses at home if you're not sure about them.

"If you can see light through them, they're probably fake," Groves-Egan said.

NASA' says you should only look at the sun through eclipse glasses or a pinhole viewer.

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NASA says you can make your own eclipse projector using a cardboard box, a white sheet of paper, tape, scissors, and aluminum foil.

"You can view the eclipse directly without proper eye protection only when the moon completely obscures the sun’s bright face during the brief and spectacular period known as totality," NASA said on its website.

Here in central Indiana, we will experience about three to four minutes of "totality" on April 8.

"As soon as you see even a little bit of the bright sun reappear after totality, immediately put your eclipse glasses back on or use a handheld solar viewer," NASA said.

Dr. Groves-Egan said she and her family will be watching the eclipse from their backyard.

Hamilton County Solar Eclipse

Knowing what she knows, she said she won't be taking off her eclipse glasses even during totality.

"We just want a be real careful about solar retinopathy," Groves-Egan said, "and make sure that we're protecting our eyes and that we have the right equipment and I would recommend not staring for too long."

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at or on X/Twitter: @vicryc.