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Solar Eclipse | What You Need to Know

Total Eclipse of the Sun | Protect Your Eyes

Total Eclipse of the Sun Can Cause Solar Retinopathy | Randall Wong, M.D. Retina SpecialistThe Great American Solar Eclipse 2017 is just around the corner.   Are you ready?

Here are some quick tips you will need to know to insure that your family and friends can enjoy this “once in a lifetime” event and protect their vision at the same time.

Total Eclipse of the Sun

Bonnie Tyler will sing “Total Eclipse of the Sun” while aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  The ship leaves from Miami and will be situated within the path of totality as it leaves the coast of South Carolina.

The path of totality starts in Oregon and moves eastward through South Carolina.  The path of totality is about 70 miles wide and will be the only area in the United States where a total eclipse of the sun will be experienced.

For 2 minutes and 4o seconds, those in the path of totality will essentially experience total darkness as the sun is completely blocked by the moon.

Those not within this 11 state swath will experience a partial eclipse.

Protect Your Eyes with ISO Filters

Sunglasses offer no protection from the damaging UV light of the sun.   Only ISO certified filters offer protection from direct sunlight.ISO 12312-2 Filters Protect Against Solar Retinopathy | Randall Wong, MD, Retina Specialist

ISO 12312-2 filters are used in “eclipse glasses” and solar viewers.  These filters are strong enough to allow direct visualization of the eclipse.

ISO filters are the only way to directly visualize the eclipse without risk of solar retinopathy.  Solar retinopathy is caused by the sun’s intense UV radiation causing damage to the rods and cones of your retina.

Symptoms of Solar Retinopathy

While gazing too long at the sun, UV damage to your retina is painless.  Symptoms of solar retinopathy include:

  • Decreased color perception
  • Blind spots in central vision
  • Distortion
  • Pain, especially when looking at bright lights
  • Redness and tearing, especially when looking at bright lights
  • Loss of vision in both eyes

Solar retinopathy can be permanent.  Blindness can occur.

Indirect Viewing is Safest

If you can not find certified ISO eclipse glasses, consider constructing your own pinhole camera.

Using simple materials found around the house (aluminum foil, white paper, tape, scissors), construct an easy to build pinhole camera.

A pinhole camera avoids direct sun light and, therefore, avoids any chance of developing permanent vision loss from solar retinopathy.

All the best,




Randall Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia 22031


Currently, I see patients with retinal diseases; macular degeneration, retinal detachment, macular holes, macular pucker within several different's a different arrangement, but it allows more continuous care with many eye specialists. In addition, I am very accessible via the web. To schedule your own appointment, call any of the numbers below.

Virginia Lasik | Office of Anh Nguyen, M.D.
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Contact: Layla

A: 431 Park Avenue, Suite 103 • Falls Church, Virginia 22046
Ph: 703.534. 4393
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Dressler Ophthalmology Associates, PLC
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Contact: Ashley (Surgery/Web)
Chrissy Megargee (Web)

A: 3930 Pender Drive, Suite 10 • Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Ph: 703.273.2398
F: 703.273.0239
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