Retina Associates of Kentucky

Warns Against Solar Retinopathy for the Upcoming

Solar Eclipse 8-21-2017


Are you among the many people planning a trip to Hopkinsville for the upcoming Solar Eclipse on August 21st to witness a spectacular moment in history? Or are you going to watch it locally? Some of us may never have this opportunity again in our lifetime! At Retina Associates of Kentucky, we are excited about the eclipse, but we are warning our patients and community about the potential risk of Solar Retinopathy.


Solar Retinopathy is damage to the retina of the eye due to prolonged exposure to intense light radiation, such as from the sun or even high-powered laser pointers. This damage can result in permanent central vision loss. Our physicians would like to encourage you to include protective eyewear, as you plan for the viewing. There are many "eclipse glasses" to be found at local stores and on the internet, but they are not all safe. Make sure they are labeled as meeting the ISO 12312-2 safety standard. Such eyewear is 100,000 times more dense than your average sunglasses, so you should not be able to see much other than the sun when you have it on.


Many of our patients have asked about viewing the solar eclipse and why protective eyewear is necessary. Here’s what our physicians had to say:


“Everyone should be able to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event, but please do so safely! Wearing eye protection that meets the ISO 12312-2 standard will allow you to view the eclipse without concern for retinal injury.”  -Todd Purkiss, MD, PhD


“Everyone should enjoy the eclipse safely however it is dangerous to view a partial eclipse through binoculars, a telescope, or a camera viewfinder. These do not provide any added protection when visualizing the eclipse.” -John Kitchens, MD


“Looking directly at the sun without adequate eye protection can damage the photoreceptors in the retina and can cause  vision loss.” –Belinda Shirkey, MD


Figure: Solar Retinopathy - Retinal damage as seen soon after the injury (upper images) and later (lower images). The center part of the retina, which gives us our sharpest detail vision, suffers irreversible damage that results in permanent vision loss

Link to hear our very own, Belinda Shirkey, MD 


All Doctors


Lexington Bardstown                           William J. Wood, MD
120 N. Eagle Creek Drive        Danville Rick D. Isernhagen, MD
Suite 500 Frankfort Thomas W. Stone, MD
Lexington, KY 40509 London John W. Kitchens, MD
  Prestonsburg Todd J. Purkiss, MD, Phd
Louisville Richmond Belinda L. Shirkey, MD
6420 Dutchmans Parkway Somerset Sheila M. Garcia Santana, MD
Suite 70   Blake A. Isernhagen, MD
Louisville, KY 40205    
2841 Lexington Avenue    
Ashland, Ky 41101