A man who damaged his eyes 55 years ago while looking at a partial solar eclipse is warning others about the risks of looking at the sun without protection.
In 1962, Lou Tomososki walked home from Marshall High School in Bend, Oregon, with his friend Roger Duval, when the two stopped to watch the partial eclipse occurring in the sky. While they only looked with their naked eyes for a few seconds, the damage the sun caused to Tomososki’s vision would stay with him for the rest of his life.
According to , Tomososki began to see flashes in his vision, similar to the spots that occur when a picture is taken with a flashbulb. Tomososki, now 70, has experienced vision problems since then, and he is warning those who want to enjoy to wear eye protection while looking at the celestial event.
“It’s going to be over real quick and it’s not worth taking a chance,” Lou Tomososki told .
Tomososki learned that he had burned the retina in his right eye during the eclipse, giving him a partial blind spot in its center. His vision never improved.
“It doesn’t get any worse and it doesn’t get any better,” he said. “You know how the news people blur a license plate out? That’s what I have on the right eye, about the size of a pea, I can’t see around that.”
Tomososki said that he wished he knew more about the risks of looking at the sun during an eclipse that day, and he hopes that others will heed his warning to wear eye protection during the upcoming eclipse.
“Millions of people out there are going to be looking out at it… How many of them are going to say, ‘Something happened to my eyes?’” he told Today. “That makes me sick.”
Doctors say that even if the sun is obstructed—such in the case of an eclipse—its rays can still cause damage to the eye.
“When you partially obscure the sun with the moon, it’s not so bright, and it’s not so painful to actually look at it,” Dr. G. Baker Hubbard of the Emory Eye Center in Atlanta told . “But, even though it’s not painful, those harmful rays are still getting in your eyes and focused right onto the center of your retina, and that’s where it does the damage.”
According to , Tomososki says he will be outside on August 21, but he won’t be looking skyward.
“I’m going to go out and enjoy it,” he said. “But I’ll stand and watch it get dark.”