Totality Awesome, Dude

I try to focus on common things that can be encountered on the trail, after all, common things are common. But I had a confluence of signs the other day when I was thinking about what I was going to write about this week that I just couldn't ignore... I was listening to NPR's story about the upcoming solar eclipse, and then I had to go into a convenience store to pay for gas and they were selling solar eclipse sun glasses by the register while Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," was playing the sound system. That's 100% true, so this week we'll talk about protecting your eyes during this decidedly uncommon event.

The last time an eclipse was visible in my part of New England was in August of 2017. My wife and I made pinhole viewing boxes and got to see the partial eclipse. The path of that eclipse went farther south, but this year, with a drive north, we'd be able to see a total eclipse, which seems pretty awesome.

I'm pretty sure from the first time someone talked about what an eclipse was, I was taught not to look directly at the sun, and that's really the short and sweet message here. Don't look directly as the sun during an eclipse or any time. 

The type of injury to the eye that occurs by looking at the sun is different, and far worse than "snow blindness." Snow blindness is essentially a sun burn on the cornea called "photokeratitis." Photokeratitis can be extremely painful, so painful that you can't open your eyes. That's a problem because most of us need to see where we're going. But while it's painful, it's typically temporary, resolving in hours to days. 

Solar eclipse blindness, or solar retinopathy, damages the cells in the back of the eye, and they may never recover. Seems like having some protection makes sense, and if you're going to pick up a pair of eclipse glasses, make sure they're ISO certified

If you're a New Englander like me, check out the map to see how close the total eclipse will be to you. I'll be making a drive north for sure (assuming the weather doesn't predict thick cloud cover). One of the main points of the NPR article referenced above was that the difference between a total eclipse and a 99% eclipse sounds to be pretty significant, and worth the drive, especially since the next one won't be coming by for another 20 years.

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