West TN man's vision damaged during '83 eclipse, doctors warn of dangers

Aug. 15, 2017: A West Tennessee man is urging caution for eclipse watchers after he suffered eye damage during an eclipse in 1983.

A West Tennessee man is urging people to be careful viewing the eclipse after his vision was impaired from looking at one during the 80s.

Mark Bedwell was not blinded by what happened but the retina in his right eye was burned during a solar eclipse in 1983.

"It's just not worth it," Bedwell said. 

Bedwell didn't use glasses to watch the solar eclipse more than 30 years ago. 

"We had been told with this solar eclipse that we could hold up exposed x-ray film and we would safe to look at it," he said. 

Bedwell remembers the eclipse being as bright as ever and he didn't notice anything was wrong until about 10 years ago.

"There this brown spot occurred in my right vision and wherever my eye would move, it would follow. It was perfectly round," he said. 

Bedwell went to his optometrist the very next day to see what happened to his vision. 

"He asked me: was I right handed and I said yes and then he said: have I ever looked at a solar eclipse and I said yea, but that was like 1980s and he said you have what's consistent with a retinal burn," Bedwell said. 

According to Optometrist Doctor Sam Winston with Winston Eye and Vision Center, there is no safe way to look at the sun. He said what happened to Bedwell can happen to others if precautions are not taken with the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

"It is permanent and can cause permanent vision loss," Dr. Winston said about retinal burns. 

He added there is no cure or surgery for a retinal burn, which is essentially a sun burn in the back of your eye.

"The damage period happens anytime you are staring at an un-eclipsed view or partially eclipsed view," Dr. Winston said. 

Only if you are watching from the path of 100 percent totality, can you take the glasses off safely.

To be safe, the glasses must have an ISO certified solar filter rating. 

"Although you may just blink out of it and you'll be okay for this day it doesn't mean that your vision will not be affected," Bedwell added.

Bedwell recommends people should play it safe instead of be sorry later on in life.

"I would not risk anything. I would not put glasses on. I would not put a welding helmet on. X-ray film doesn't work. We know that. I wouldn't do anything to risk you know, your eyesight. It's simply not worth it," Bedwell said. 

Dr. Winston recommends parents and school teachers to take extra precautions for young ones not to stare into the sun without the glasses.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment