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Hollywood Ophthalmologist Dr. Alan Mendelsohn Shares Precautions for Viewing the Eclipse

Friday, August 18th 2017, 5:01 pm                       

In anticipation of the upcoming eclipse on August 21, South Florida Ophthalmologist Dr. Alan Mendelsohn has a warning for the public. While this eclipse may be the most watched, best observed solar eclipse in history, an unprotected view could permanently affect your sight.

“Looking at a solar eclipse causes a photochemical injury to the retina in the back of the eye. This happens because of a biochemical reaction that occurs with the crucial layer of the retina, the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) and also the photoreceptors (rods and cones) sustaining damage,” he explained.

According to Mendelsohn, one should never look at the sun directly, eclipse or no eclipse. There are times when a sun gazer is fortunate and this damage is reversible. More commonly, the damage is irreversible, causing a mild to moderate to severe permanent loss of vision, usually correlating strongly with the duration of exposure.

Prevention is simple and can be successfully achieved by wearing glasses that conform to the industry standard which is ISO 12312-2. Any glasses or goggles or disposable cardboard lenses that protect must have the designation they are ISO 12312-2 approved. One can google ISO 12312-2 and a myriad of inexpensive options will be displayed. Unfortunately, due to counterfeit glasses, it is very important to ascertain that the glasses have the requisite protection.

“With the retinal damage sustained from the solar eclipse induced toxicity, you may notice within a few hours of exposure a loss of vision and object distortion. Frequently a blind spot will be present that at times can be very large, usually effecting the central vision or very close to the central vision. Typically, there will be partial recovery within three-six months with a small percentage of those afflicted having a total recovery,” Mendelsohn explained.

Children are at an even higher risk than adults because their lens is clear allowing the light rays to zoom straight through and charbroils the back of the eye. Additionally children don’t sense they are in danger because the retina does not have nerve fibers and they experience no pain, a typical warning sign to stop engaging in a particular activity.

“Without the glasses, my suggestion would be to remain indoors and watch the eclipse on the computer or on TV. Or look for venues like local planetariums which may be hosting safe viewing events. The temptation to take a sneak peek may be uncontrollable when outside,” added Mendelsohn.

About Eye Surgeons and Consultants: The Office of Dr. Alan Mendelsohn

South Florida Ophthalmologist Dr. Alan Mendelsohn attended Northwestern University’s Honors Program in Medical Education and Northwestern University Medical School, where he also completed his residency training in Ophthalmology. He was honored by the prestigious Heed Ophthalmic Foundation as one of the ten most outstanding graduating ophthalmologists in the United States. Mendelsohn completed his fellowship training at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. For more information, please call 954-894-1500 or visit

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