North Texas doctors want you to protect your eyes, “don’t underestimate the risk”

NORTH TEXAS — On Monday, the sun will disappear in North Texas in the middle of the day. Another total solar eclipse won’t happen for another 300 years.

“We are going to watch on the patio of our office building,” says Corina Esteban, “and then we’re just going to be outside waiting for it to happen.”

“I’m going to be out in like the fields of Waco,” shares Stephanie Cortez.

So while you’re picking your place, experts are reminding us to also be safe, and protect your eyes.  

“The sun will burn the back of your eyes,” explains Dr. Agustin Gonzalez, Lead Optometrist for Parkland Health. “It will cause permanent damage. And when I say permanent damage, this is something that cannot be fixed by using glasses, medications, vitamins or surgeries. This is permanent damage.”

Dr. Gonzalez says he’s troubled by research he’s seen recently suggesting that as many as a third of people in the path of the eclipse are not aware of how to view it safely. 

Be aware of fake eclipse glasses, and do not use only regular glasses or sunglasses to view the eclipse.

“Yeah, I’m going to have these Warby Parker ones,” shares Cortez, showing off her free pair. The eye glass locations in North Texas are giving customers free eclipse glasses while supplies last.

“And you can actually test them out right now when the sun’s out… obviously don’t just keep staring at the sun with the naked eye. But if you put these on and look at the sun, you’ll see, like, a little orange light. Yeah, it’s just like a little circle,” said Cortez.

Dr. Gonzalez says the glasses should be worn whenever you’re looking at the sun including during totality.

“Absolutely. Even when the full eclipse is on board, where you can only see the corona, what they call the corona of the sun, that is enough light energy to cause permanent damage in the eyes.”

According to NASA, it is safe to remove the glasses to experience the darkness during totality. Just don’t look directly up at the sun.

Dr. Gonzalez says it’s important to share that safety message with family and friends and be especially mindful of children who may be tempted to take a peak.  

“This is not about fearmongering,” explains Dr. Gonzalez. “This is about educating people to safely enjoy this beautiful event that’s going to happen Monday.”

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