Dear School Administrators:
I know many of you, but for those I may not have met, my name is Dr. Joshua Wilson. I am the owner of Advanced Vision Care in Nashville and Belleville. As you can imagine, with the solar eclipse getting near, I have been getting numerous questions regarding the viewing of this extraordinary event and the effects it can have on your eyes. The most concerned people are parents of children, who will be in school at the time of the eclipse. As a local eye care provider, I feel it is my obligation to provide with you my thoughts and some concerns.
This is a once in a lifetime educational opportunity, but the risk is very high. It is impossible to control every aspect of this event. Most eclipse glasses are not made to fit children properly, and it will be difficult to make sure each child keeps the glasses on without direct parental supervision. If the glasses do not filter out 100% of the harmful UV rays, if they are not used absolutely perfectly, or if there is even a small defect in the glasses, it can result it permanent vision loss in a matter of seconds. Since the sun is being partially blocked by the moon, it is easier than usual to stare at the sun which makes it that much more dangerous. When wearing these glasses, you cannot see anything but the illumination from the sun, making it impossible to navigate. Students will be going outside to viewing areas without the glasses on and be instructed to avoid the temptation of looking up in the sky! Since they can’t see anything, kids will also want to peek around the glasses so they can see what else is going on. There is also peer pressure risk of one kid “daring” another to just look without the glasses or have a “staring contest” to see who can look longer.
I have a fear that I will be very busy on Tuesday, August 22 with people who wake up with hazy, blurry vision which I cannot fix! Even if you are successful in protecting 99% of the students, that one student who could be affected could have devastating consequences affecting the rest of his or her life.
I would be more than happy to meet with any of you or talk to you on the phone if you have any questions! Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.
Joshua D. Wilson, OD
Advanced Vision Care