Can I Really Go Blind Watching the Solar Eclipse?

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On Monday, a total solar eclipse will be visible in the United States, and if you’re planning on catching a glimpse of one of nature’s wonders you’re going to need some special viewing glasses or risk serious damage to your eyes, including blindness.

According to Vox (and common sense), looking directly at the sun — eclipse or not — can permanently damage your eyes, literally burning a hole through them.

You’ll need super-dark glasses (think dark welder’s glasses) that will filter out all but .003 percent of light. Ordinary sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection.

“The light from the sun is very intense and concentrated into a very small area, and then that light is converted into heat and that heat cooks the retina,”Joel Schuman, chair of ophthalmology at NYU Langone Health explained to Vox. “So you have a permanent area that you don’t see, a permanent blind spot.”

If you don’t want to take our word for it, maybe Lou Tomososki’s story will sway you a bit.

According to Time, in 1962 Tomososki was on his way home from high school when he and a friend stopped to catch a glimpse of a partial solar eclipse. The few seconds it took him to look would damage his eyesight for the rest of his life.

“We were just doing it for a short time,” he told Today. “I have a little blind spot in the center of my right eye.”

Here’s a list of reputable eclipse glasses vendors.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and fully blocks the sun — it’s a pretty big deal because the last one that was visible in the contiguous U.S. happened 38 years ago. The previous one occurred in 1918.

According to the LA Times, above Southern California, the moon will start to edge into the sun just after 9 a.m. PT. The maximum eclipse will happen at 10:21 a.m. The partial eclipse will end at 11:45 a.m., and the sun — and daylight — will go back to normal.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Do I Really Need Special Glasses to Watch the Eclipse?

How to Livestream the Solar Eclipse

PBS 'Nova' to Cover First Total Solar Eclipse Since 1979