PORTLAND – A Portland man who watched a solar eclipse in 1963 says the experience left him partially blind in one eye, according to KPTV, and now he wants everyone to know the warnings about eye damage during the upcoming eclipse are no joke.
Back then, it was a total solar eclipse in Alaska and Canada, but the path of totality did not come through Oregon.
Still, Louis Tomososki remembers being 16 years old and watching it unfold from the baseball field at Marshall High School.
Nobody was talking about safety glasses back then, so he watched it with the naked eye, closing his left eye and leaving his right eye open.
“Oh 20 seconds probably, that’s all it took,” Tomososki told FOX 12. “I’m glad I didn’t go 40 seconds, it would have been even worse.”
He doesn’t remember exactly when he realized there was a problem, but those few seconds burned a hole in his retina leaving him with a sizable blind spot he’s had ever since.
He describes it as looking at someone and being able see their face – but not their nose.
Tomososki remembers it was discovered during an eye exam when he went into the Air Force right after high school.
In the 54 years since that eclipse, he said the blind spot hasn’t gotten any worse or any better.
“Every time we go to an eye doctor now for an exam, they dilate your eyes and look in there, the first thing they say is, you looked at a solar eclipse sometime in your life,” he said.
Dr. Brandon Lujan, an assistant professor of Opthamology at OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute, said the same damage can be done on any other day if you stare at the sun. But with the eclipse, even when the visible light is reduced by the moon, UV and infrared rays can still do damage to the retina.
“Some damage occurs pretty quickly, but a lot of damage can take hours to days to really come to bear,” Lujan said. “Unfortunately there’s not a treatment for it, so once that damage is done you have to wait and hopefully things improve and your body can heal some, but a lot of the damage can be permanent.”
It’s a lesson Tomososki wishes he knew back in 1963.
With Monday’s total solar eclipse on the horizon, he wants you to remember that even a quick look at the sun with the naked eye just isn’t worth it.
“A quick look like we did back in 1963, and I’m 71, almost 71 now, that quick look cost us,” Tomososki said. “And it could have cost us a lot more.”
Sit down because I’m about to make a serious post.
Sometime in the early 80’s, 82 or 3 I think, there was a solar eclipse. We were TOLD, no idea who, but the rumor was that it was safe to look at it through exposed x-ray film.
So, we lined up outside Lexington hospital ER with our exposed x-ray films in hand and stared at the solar eclipse that afternoon.
It was an amazing thing to see. And when it was fully covered it got dark and very cold from the noon heat that we’re used to. I remember a very very bright searing light and a flash sort of then it went away. The lights came back on and the afternoon heated back up and everything returned to normal.
Life happens and you move on. I started using readers many years ago, but no big deal. That’s just part of aging.
About 10 years ago while driving I had a big brown perfectly round spot appear in my right eye. Wouldn’t blink out, or go away. The left eye was ok. Pretty much freaked me out.
The next day, the optometrist examined it and the first thing he asked was am I right handed, I said I was.
The next question was ‘have I ever looked at a solar eclipse?’
I said yes, but that was in the early 80’s. And “they” said it was safe if we used x-ray film.
He said they were wrong.
Then he said you have a burn on your right retina that’s perfectly round and consistent with a burn from looking at a solar eclipse. Sometimes the damage takes years to show up, in which it did in my case. Stress and aging can cause it to swell and become visible.
I was working in the cath lab and had a particularly long day and was hurrying and rushing to Lexington for a ceremony to honor Leeburn Ray Harris at the band room when it occurred.
There is nothing that can be done for it, it’s irreparable.
It’s sort of like macular degeneration.
Over the years, the brown spot has gone away unless I get really tired, which I try to avoid because, well..I love sleep.
But my vision in my right eye is severely impacted from a rumor of what was safe. I was young and would try most anything at least once.
I can still see out of it, but I only see really big letters. My left eye has accommodated to help it out.
I didn’t write this from the victim standpoint because the world needs less whiny victims.
I wrote this to let everyone know to take this upcoming solar eclipse seriously; it’s not play.
I have no intention of looking at it again. Don’t have but one good eye so I can’t lose it.
Be sure to check with an eye doctor about the safest way, if there is one, to look at this phenomenon coming up.
Just a tip.
Don’t risk it.