Man with eye damage from 1962 eclipse warns others to be careful

You’ve heard it a gazillion times by now: You’ve got to protect your eyes during the eclipse. You might be giving those silly looking glasses the side-eye, wondering if you really, actually need to wear them during your eclipse-viewing extravaganza on Aug. 21.

The answer is yes. Absolutely. Don’t make us tattle to your optometrist. In short, staring at the sun can burn your eyeballs. If the sun hits the front of your eye, it can cause solar keratitis. It’s like a sunburn. It hurts, but it will heal. The real cause for concern is damage to the back of your eye, or retina. The eclipse could cause permanent damage, including blind spots.

But we know there still might be some skeptics out there.

eclipse photo
Getty Images | Ian Hitchcock

To drive home just how important it is to protect your eyes during the eclipse, Lou Tomososki—who damaged his eyes 55 years ago while peering up at a partial solar eclipse in Oregon—is warning eclipse viewers.

In 1962, Tomososki and a friend were walking home from Marshall High School in Portland, Oregon, and stopped to witness the partial solar eclipse at a baseball field. In a recent interview, Tomososki told TODAY that while he was watching the eclipse, he saw flashes of light. He compared it to having your picture taken and seeing the flashbulb.

The sun ended up burning his right eye, causing permanent damage. His friend suffered damage in the left eye.

In an interview broadcast on the USA Today Network, Tomososki, now 70, likened the blind spot in his right eye to seeing a license plate that’s been blurred out. The blind spot, he says, is about the size of a pea. A doctor told Tomososki that he burned his retina.

“It’s just not worth taking the chance,” he told the news station.

Convinced you need to protect your own eyes during the eclipse? Eclipse glasses have been selling out quickly. But, you’re not completely out of luck. We’ve rounded up some other ways you can safely view the eclipse.

Now, get out there and have some (safe) fun. This online tool will help you find out how you can see the eclipse in your zip code.