On July 20th a solar eclipse will be visible, weather permitting, from most of the United States and Canada. Since the day is a Saturday in a traditionally holiday month, the event can be expected to attract a record number of viewers. This will also mean a record number of retinal burns, unless adequate precautions are taken to prevent them. Previous experience indicates that the majority of these casualties will occur in children from 9 to 15 years old, and the majority of these will be boys. Ophthalmologists could play a beneficial role in disseminating information on the hazards of eclipse viewing and the means of preventing injury to the eye.
Retinal burns from the sun, like those from the atomic bomb, are due to the thermal effect of the visible and near infrared rays focused on the pigment structures behind the retina, as clearly documented in classical1 and
C. DG. On Viewing the Eclipse. Arch Ophthalmol. 1963;69(6):690-692. doi:10.1001/archopht.1963.00960040696002