Protect your eyes if you plan to look at solar eclipse

- SALT LAKE (ABC 4 News) – Sunday’s solar eclipse is a rare astronomical event, but people could hurt their eyes if they are not careful.

Just because most of the sun will be covered by the moon doesn’t mean someone can look directly at it.

“Having one come to Utah is a rare thing,” Bayard Stringer, an astronomer at the University of Utah, said.

Thousands of people are planning to view the eclipse around the beehive state.

“When the moon is right in front of the sun you'll see a ring of the sun around the moon,” Astronomer Tabitha Buehler, said. “They're calling it the ring of fire.”

The ring of fire can cause serious eye damage if you look at the sun too long. Solar radiation can scar your retinas without you feeling any pain.

Opthamologist Todd Daynes said he has treated several patients with permanent eye damage after staring at an eclipse.

“It is the same effect of having a laser pointed directly at your eye,” Daynes said. “It leaves a lasting scar. Some people have actually lost the ability to drive a car because they’ve been starting at the sun too long.”

If a person stared at an eclipse with the naked eye, it may be weeks before serious symptoms appear. The symptoms of damaged eyes include pain, color changes, a blind spot or waves in vision, according to Daynes.

He advised the use of solar glasses or eclipse viewers. The viewers are available at Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake.

“I’m pretty excited,” Stringer added. “This is the first time I'm going to see a solar eclipse in person.”

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