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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Doctor warns about protecting the eyes during solar eclipse

By The Star Staff

A solar eclipse will take place on Oct. 14 in Puerto Rico and the rest of the Americas. Dr. Celia de Lourdes Feliciano, a member of the Optometrists Association of Puerto Rico, warned in a press release of the dangers of looking directly at the celestial event without adequate protection.

“To enjoy this gift of nature we must do it responsibly to avoid damage to our eyes,” Feliciano said. “It is vital not to take selfies during the event.”

The specialist emphasized the importance of using glasses with an ISO-12312-2 filter, available through organizations such as the American Astronomical Society and the Astronomical Society of Puerto Rico. It also emphasizes supervision of children during the event and caution when using equipment such as telescopes and cameras.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the earth and the sun. There are different types of solar eclipses; Puerto Rico will witness an annular eclipse, where the outer ring of the sun is visible.

Looking directly at an eclipse without protection can cause solar retinopathy, a permanent injury of the eyes.

Feliciano added that watching the eclipse through a cell phone is equally dangerous.

“The mobile screen has no protection against the sun’s rays and works as a mirror,” she warned. “Especially young people, they should avoid selfies with the eclipse in the background.”

The doctor concluded by stressing that “you should never look directly at the sun during an eclipse without the right protection.”

She also recommended not observing the sun for more than three minutes at a time, even with protective glasses.

Sunburn on the eyes is not immediately noticeable. People often become aware of the injury when they experience vision loss or difficulty identifying colors. In addition to eye care, it is essential to protect the skin with sunscreen and, if possible, wear hats. The eclipse is expected to begin at 12:13 p.m.

If someone suspects that they have suffered from solar retinopathy, they should immediately consult an optometrist or ophthalmologist, Feliciano said.

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