The answer is yes. Staring at the sun is extremely dangerous and it will cause permanent damage to the eye. Will you go blind after staring at the sun one time? Well, when permanent loss of vision is under discussion, isn’t even a little blindness more than enough to justify taking precautions. It is possible to stare at the sun without going completely blind, but chances are, some major damage will be done. Just like the skin, the eye is an extremely sensitive area that can be burned by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The human eye restricts bright light naturally, but that process itself creates a focused stream of light pointed directly at the macula. The macula is the part of the eye in charge of the major portion of vision. This kind of intense exposure can literally create a burn on the surface of the eye causing the cells to blister and crack. Most dangerous, is the fact that retinal burns do not hurt while they are occurring. Only hours later will your eyes burn and itch. I Just did it Once:
After just one direct viewing of the sun, a person can attain a retinal burn creating a blind spot that can be temporary or permanent. This type of burn is called solar retinopathy. Even if the burn is temporary, such an injury to the retina combined with sun exposure over a lifetime will contribute to accelerated deterioration of vision, or macular degeneration. If the macula does attain permanent damage to even a tiny area, your level of vision can immediately drop. There’s Something to Stare at Up There:
Concerns about the dangers of staring at the sun arise most around the time of unusual solar activity such as an eclipse. It is understandable to want to get a good look at such a rare event, but never view an eclipse with the naked eye. Even when part of the sun is blocked out, the exposed area can still cause a retinal burn. Children always are interested in getting a good look at their first eclipse, but children are especially at risk for eye damage from the sun, because their eyes have not yet fully developed their abilities to block out UV rays. The only time it is safe to stare directly at the sun is during a total eclipse, but don’t try it. A total eclipse means the sun’s light is completely blocked out by another celestial object such as the moon. This blockage generally only occurs for a matter of moments. Immediately before and after a total eclipse there is risk. It’s not worth permanent eye damage to try to catch the eclipse at just the right moment. It is much safer and very easy to create a viewing box or buy special filtered glass to experience these events. I Don’t Plan to Stare:
Burns to the eye can occur anytime, and people who work in the sand or snow should be especially concerned. Both sand and snow reflect the sun’s light and intensify its effects. Protective sunglasses should always be worn when sunbathing on the beach or skiing. Longer-term exposure can cause cataracts, cloudy areas that diminish the field of vision, and other eye problems. Make sure to choose either amber tinted or polarized sunglasses. Regular sunglasses without specific UV protection will do very little to prevent damage. The risk of daily sun exposure is the worst during the middle of the day between mid-morning and late afternoon.
How Do I Protect Myself?
Even on an overcast day, the UV rays of the sun can penetrate the clouds; so if you are planning on spending many hours outside, protect yourself. Got baby blues? Take even more precautions if you have light colored eyes, as your eyes have increased sensitivity to the sun. Also, tetracycline related drugs, often used to treat acne, and the pill can increase sun sensitivity as well. The sooner you start protecting your eyes the better, as most eye damage occurs early in life. Don’t automatically assume that your sunglasses are UV protective. You’ll want to make sure that they block out at least 99% of the harmful light, and never judge your glasses by the color. A dark tint doesn’t automatically mean that they are sun protective. Consider glasses that wrap around the sides of your face for added protection, and it’s always a good idea to wear a brimmed hat for long hours outdoors. How to I Learn More?
For more information about eye health, consider visiting the following websites: