Keeping Little Eyes Safe During a Solar Eclipse – PediaCast 557

Show Notes


  • Dr David Rogers visits the studio as we consider the total solar eclipse visiting Ohio on April 8th. The moon marching across the sun will be an amazing display, but how can we keep little eyes safe while viewing it? Tune in to find out!


  • Total Eclipse of the Sun
  • Solar Retinopathy




Episode Transcript

Announcer:     This is Pediacast. ♪♪♪ Welcome to Pediacast, a pediatric podcast for parents. And now, direct from the campus of Nationwide Children's, here is your host, Dr. Mike.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Hello everybody and welcome once again to PDA cast it is a pediatric podcast for moms and dads This is dr. Mike coming to you from Nationwide Children's Hospital. We're in Columbus, Ohio It's episode 557 we're calling this 1 keeping little eyes safe during a solar eclipse. I want to welcome all of you to the program. So we do have a rare total eclipse of the sun that will be appearing or disappearing as the case may be, on April 8th of 2024, across a large segment of the United States from Texas up through Maine and including here in Central Ohio.

Dr Mike Patrick:     And we'll talk more about this in just a few minutes. First, I just want to mention, there is an organization that we have talked about on this podcast called A Kid Again. It was Pediacast episode 487, and I'm going to put a link in the show notes for you for that. And this, A Kid Again is a national organization that strives to give illness a time out by helping families who have a child with a life-threatening condition, helping them create positive experiences and memories at an otherwise difficult time. And what this organization does is it provides a free of charge trips for kids with a really complex medical conditions to local amusement parks and zoos and science museums and just you know fun stuff that all kids should get a chance to do.

Dr Mike Patrick:     And the reason I'm bringing them up is that my family and I, my adult children, went to Cedar Point this past weekend. And they have an event called the Winter Chill Out, which supports a kid again. All proceeds for ticket sales go to that organization. And all the folks that are working at Cedar Point that day are doing it voluntarily, since it is a fundraising event. And of course, the rides are not open because it was very cold on the shores of Lake Erie.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Cedar Point is an amusement park that jets out into Lake Erie on a peninsula and so it was very cold but it was such a cool day it was basically 7 hours of behind-the-scenes tours So we went in the maintenance sheds, the train yard, and the building where they work on the big steam locomotives. And they had folks there with, you know, they had roller coaster cars all taken apart. And basically, they were telling you all about their job and what they do, and they were excited to do that. And that you had opportunity to ask questions. They also had the costuming shop open, their sign shop, the landscaping folks.

Dr Mike Patrick:     So it was really in and out of a lot of backstage sort of areas at an amusement park. And I'm mentioning this because a lot of folks don't know about this and they do it every winter. I'll also put a link in the show notes to the Winter Chill Out event at Cedar Point in case you might be interested in doing that next year. It's for a good cause and if you live in the Ohio area or are in, you know, within a day's trip to go to Cedar Point, it might be something that you would want to look into because it was really a lot of fun and a great day spent with family. Speaking of great days spent with family, there's 1 coming up here, April 8th, 2024, which we wanted to get this out well in advance of that actual date.

Dr Mike Patrick:     It's going to be a rare total eclipse of the sun. And as I mentioned, this eclipse is going to march across the United States with totality happening from Texas all the way up through Maine and again including here in central Ohio, which will be fabulous to watch but also dangerous. A UV light from the sun delivers intense energy and it can cause eye damage and vision problems that can be permanent vision problems. So we're gonna explore all of this the science behind solar eclipses which is really fascinating, the science behind solar retinopathy which is the medical term for eye injury from looking at the Sun. We'll talk about strategies for watching a solar eclipse safely and what to do if your child accidentally looks at the Sun without protection, signs and symptoms to watch for, and when and where to seek help if your child or you develop any concerning visual symptoms or eye symptoms after the solar eclipse.

Dr Mike Patrick:     But even more importantly, we'll give you some safety information on how to prepare for the eclipse and how to watch it in a safe manner. Our guest today is Dr. David Rogers. He is chief of pediatric ophthalmology at Nationwide Children's Hospital. So he will be joining us shortly.

Dr Mike Patrick:     I do want to remind you that you can find our podcast wherever podcasts are found when the Apple and Google podcast apps, iHeartRadio, Spotify, SoundCloud, Amazon Music, YouTube, and most other podcast apps for iOS and Android. Please do subscribe to the show if you like it so you don't miss an episode. And also please consider leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts so that others who come along looking for evidence-based child health and parenting information will know what to expect. We're also on social media. We love connecting with you there.

Dr Mike Patrick:     We're on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, LinkedIn, and Twitter X. Simply search for Pediacast. We also have a contact link over at if you would like to suggest a future topic for the program. Also, remember the information presented in our podcast is for general educational purposes only. We do not diagnose medical conditions or formulate treatment plans for specific individuals.

Dr Mike Patrick:     If you're concerned about your child's health, be sure to call your health care provider. Also, your use of this audio program is subject to the Pediacast Terms of Use Agreement, which you can find at So let's take a quick break. We'll get Dr. David Rogers settled into the studio, and then we will be back to talk about keeping little eyes safe during a solar eclipse.

Dr Mike Patrick:     It's coming up right after this. Dr. David Rogers is chief of pediatric ophthalmology at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a professor of ophthalmology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. And he is chair of the Solar Eclipse Task Force for the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. He has a passion for supporting children and families impacted by eye and vision problems.

Dr Mike Patrick:     1 of these conditions known as solar retinopathy is eye damage that results from looking at the Sun. The risk of this disorder is highest when there is a solar eclipse in a particular community and as it turns out a large swath of Ohio will experience a total solar eclipse on April 8th 2024. That is what he is here to talk about, the upcoming solar eclipse and keeping little eyes safe while viewing it. But first let's give a warm PDA cast welcome to our guest, Dr. Dave Rogers.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Thank you so much for visiting with us today.

Dr David Rogers:     Well Dr. Mike, Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, I am really excited to talk about this 1. Let's just start off with the solar eclipse in general. Why are these so unique? I mean, lots of people are going to travel on April 8th to areas where there is totality, and of course here in central Ohio we're included in that. So why is this so unique?

Dr Mike Patrick:     Why are people really want to see it and why do we have to think about safety during an eclipse?

Dr David Rogers:     Well I'll answer the first part of that question. Interestingly some people may think or say that solar eclipses really, there's nothing that special about them, you know. Effectively, a solar eclipse is nothing more than when the Earth and the Moon and the Sun line up perfectly. Now, the the Moon is orbiting around the Earth about every 28 days, right? Roughly.

Dr David Rogers:     I mean, you can get specific, but about every 28 days it orbits around the Earth. And the Earth is orbiting around the Sun every 365 days. And so in this natural rotation, about twice a year, they line up just right to form an eclipse. But the majority of those alignments don't occur over land, You know, most of the Earth's surface is water, and so humans don't always get to see an eclipse. And that alignment needs to be precise in order for a total solar eclipse to occur.

Dr David Rogers:     There's actually 2 types of solar, a total solar eclipses, so there's more here, right? The Moon's orbit is not a perfect circle. It's actually a squished circle, like an ellipse. And so there's a point where the Moon and the Earth can be really close together. And when an eclipse happens at that point, and that's called perigee, right, the Moon's shadow can be quite large when it hits the Earth.

Dr David Rogers:     But when the alignment occurs at apogee or when it's furthest away, then the Moon's shadow may not be big enough to actually touch the Earth's surface directly. And so you see the rim of the Sun around the Moon's shadow, and that's called an annular solar eclipse. Some people call that the ring of fire, you know, and we actually experienced 1 of those in the United States along the West Coast last fall. But what we're going to experience now, and this is what makes this eclipse so unique, is that we're going to experience that total solar eclipse, that perfect alignment, and that alignment is going to be at perigee, that close point. So We're going to have a very large shadow.

Dr David Rogers:     It's going to be 1 of the largest shadows that we've ever experienced. In fact, the width of that shadow is going to be close to 150 miles wide, allowing a lot of people to see it. And the duration of totality will be almost 4 minutes long at its peak if you're in the center of that totality. That's a pretty impressive and unique experience.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, absolutely. It really, really is. So when that actually happens, so when we are in totality, what can folks expect to actually see?

Dr David Rogers:     You know, P.T. Barnum said that his show was the greatest show on Earth, right? He trademarked that. But because the Earth-Moon alignment is our Earth-Moon alignment for this eclipse is the only 1 that causes a total solar eclipse, this is truly the greatest show in the solar system, okay? And what people can experience is right at first as that solar eclipse starts to approach you'll feel the temperature drop probably 30 minutes before totality and it can drop several degrees you'll feel it But then you're going to experience a 360 degree sunset, not just in 1 spot in the horizon, but 360 degrees.

Dr David Rogers:     You're going to see what people call the diamond ring as the sun slips behind the moon, and it looks like a diamond ring in the sky effectively. The burst as the sun disappears, it'll look like a diamond glowing in the sky, and then the ring of the corona of the sun around it. As you know, in that zone of totality, if you're in that zone, you're going to see the corona and structures called Bailey's beads and solar flares. It'll become dark like night, so dark that you're going to be able to see stars and planets in the sky that we would never see at any other time. Because of the rotation of the sky and the Earth, we only see the night sky.

Dr David Rogers:     But now we're going to be able to see the day sky and the stars and planets that would only be visible at that time. And then as the eclipse reverses, you're going to see the reverse of that. And so you're going to see that diamond ring again, and then you're going to see a Sun rise for 360 degrees. It's not something that you just see, it's something you experience, really.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, yeah. I am just so excited to see it. Why is it important to think about safety with the solar eclipse?

Dr David Rogers:     You know, that's a very important question to ask. There are really 2 reasons, okay? And the key here is, and I want to emphasize this, you can watch a solar eclipse safely. So regardless of all the myths and things that people have related to eclipses, there are really only 2 issues that we need to worry about. Number 1 is looking at the Sun directly and causing this issue called solar retinopathy that you referred to at the beginning.

Dr David Rogers:     But then there is another issue that people don't really think about and it takes planning And that is injuries that can occur related to the mass gatherings that take place when a solar eclipse occurs. Because that zone of totality is only across a certain strip of the United States. On April 8th, only a certain swath of the country will be able to see it. And people will be moving into that zone to try to experience that awesome effect that you can see during that zone of totality, during those few moments. And so, you know, traffic accidents, people driving and looking up into the sky, or the injuries related to mass gatherings are also something to consider right on the day of the eclipse.

Dr David Rogers:     Planning, good planning, can help you avoid all of this.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, absolutely, definitely. As we think about that solar retinopathy that you mentioned, what exactly is that? What is it about the Sun that makes it dangerous to look at directly without any kind of protection?

Dr David Rogers:     Well, you know, solar retinopathy is really a problem caused by ultraviolet or prolonged exposure to light or high intensity light that's focused onto the back of the eye, the surface called or the structure called the retina. And a lot of people have used analogies of focusing a lens onto a piece of paper, but that's really thermal energy. And what's truly taking place inside the eye is what's called photo-oxidation. Okay? And these are big words that just mean that, you know, the light, the eye can transmit wavelengths of light.

Dr David Rogers:     And it's those ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths of light that are damaging to our eye. Those are like laser lights. We can't really see those wavelengths of light because they're beyond the visible spectrum. Okay? Now, on any particular day we walk out into the sunlight and it it doesn't bother us.

Dr David Rogers:     It's not harmful. And in fact, on the day of a solar eclipse, the Sun is no more dangerous than any other day of the year. The only problem is that it's interesting to look at and we're all going to be trying to catch a glimpse, right? And so, on any normal day, if we tried to look at the Sun, these natural defensive mechanisms that we have to squint and feel pain and look away protect us. We don't get solar retinopathy the day before and after the eclipse, But on the day of an eclipse, that's when it's really dangerous.

Dr David Rogers:     Because those repeated glimpses up at the Sun can build up and cause injury. That photo oxidation, not really thermal energy, those wavelengths absorb into the retina and within seconds, and let me emphasize seconds, those wavelengths of light can cause damage to photoreceptors in the back of the eye. And those photoreceptors, they don't repair themselves. They cannot regenerate and that injury can become permanent and cause vision loss. Yeah, and as we think about children in particular, they don't always understand that it is dangerous to do this and so they're more likely to actually look several times at the sun trying to see what their parents might be talking about.

Dr David Rogers:     Are their eyes any more susceptible to damage or is it just that kids are more likely to get this because they aren't necessarily paying attention to directions. CFH Yeah. I want to be cautious in answering this particular question, Dr. Mike, because there are some theories out on the internet that would say that the child's eye, because the crystalline lens is so clear, of course, as we get older, the lens of the eye will become cataractous, and grandma is getting her cataract removed. You know, grandma and grandpa as they get older.

Dr David Rogers:     And if we all live long enough, our lens will become a little bit dark and we'll need to have our lenses replaced or removed with a more clear natural lens or artificial lens to replace our natural lens. But the child's lens is very clear. And so it theoretically can transmit more of those wavelengths of light. And so there is this thought or prevailing theory that children are more susceptible. But I want to make it extremely clear here.

Dr David Rogers:     That does not mean that an adult can look at the Sun, okay? There is no age or individual or person that has some built-in natural immunity and can look at the Sun. Everyone needs to have a plan to look at it safely. So maybe, theoretically, children are at an increased risk, but that is not proven by science. And so then how can we watch it safely?

Dr David Rogers:     What are some things we need to keep in mind? Great question. So I've tried to emphasize the need to have a plan. And first, it's make sure that you know where you're going to be on that day and get there in a safe way, right? Get there early, get there in a safe way.

Dr David Rogers:     And if it's not a good spot because of cloud cover or something, then make plans to move to your second location. But there's 3 easy ways to look at an eclipse. And 1 is to use a pinhole occluder. That's an indirect way to look at the Sun. And those can be really fun to make, especially for families.

Dr David Rogers:     The simplest way is to just take 2 pieces of paper and stick a pinhole in 1 of those pieces. Shine, you know, and allow the sunlight to shine through the pinhole onto the second piece of paper. And then that allows you to see, based on the shadow of what's happening up in the sky, the shadow of the Sun will be on that second piece of paper, and you can see all the phases of the eclipses they occur. There are really elaborate ways that you can see in diagrams on the internet, you can look those up to make really cool solar eclipse pinhole occluders and viewers, and they can be really fun to build as families as you prepare for the eclipse. Now then, there are direct ways to look, right?

Dr David Rogers:     And those would be using eclipse filters and the only way to do that is with like eclipse glasses or filters that are approved for the purpose. And then of course with all the planning that we have, sometimes again, like I mentioned, there's cloud cover. And fortunately, we have NASA. And NASA will have a free live stream available. It's called the NASA live stream.

Dr David Rogers:     You can go right to their website and click on that and they are up there above the clouds and they will give you a direct view of everything that is happening right as it's occurring right over your head. That's probably the safest way.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, absolutely. We are going to have a link in the show notes for how to make that pinhole projector that you were talking about from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It's a really cool page. It's got videos and shows you exactly how to go about making 1 of those. Please check that out.

Dr Mike Patrick:     It's over at the landing site for our podcast,, and this is episode 557, so you can find that easily. When we think about eclipse glasses, there is a safety standard that you have to make sure that the glasses make. How do we know that a particular set of eclipse glasses that we have are safe to use?

Dr David Rogers:     Well, that standard that you're referring to is called, some people refer to it as the ISO standard, but that means, or that stands for the International Organization of Standardization. And to actually, you know, be safe, your solar eclipse glasses must have this ISO rating on them, okay. Now if you were around in 2017 when we had another solar eclipse that passed through a different part of the United States, although we were in an area where we could see the partial phases of that eclipse, we were not in the total area of totality. A lot of people were looking for solar eclipse glasses at that time and unfortunately they were looking at the last minute. So imposters do exist.

Dr David Rogers:     You will find that not all solar eclipse glasses out there that have the ISO standard on them do actually meet it. Unfortunately, again, I will say it, imposters exist. And so we have a resource you can look at. It's provided by the American Astronomical Society, okay, and they maintain a list of reputable providers or distributors of solar eclipse glasses. You can go to their website and they maintain that list of reputable distributors and suppliers of solar eclipsed glasses.

Dr David Rogers:     It's important to make sure that your supplier comes from that list.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, and we'll put a link to that in the show notes so folks can find that really easily over at A lot of local organizations that are that are trustworthy are likely to have eclipse glasses that they give out that do meet those standards and are by those manufacturers. Just some examples, if you're affiliated with Ohio State, there has been an option to get a pair of glasses. Local libraries, science museums, observatories, some schools, other public agencies. So wherever you are, maybe you're not in Ohio, there are places local to you that likely have glasses, the eclipse glasses, that you need to view this safely.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Regular sunglasses do not provide that kind of protection, correct?

Dr David Rogers:     Well, that's a good point. And so the agencies that do provide solar eclipse glasses, as you mentioned, they almost always, I think they always go to that safe distribution list and they purchase glasses from those vendors. But regular sunglasses, those are not, absolutely not safe, regardless of what you hear. Let me emphasize, solar eclipse glasses are 100,000 times darker than a pair of standard sunglasses. Okay, So they block out almost 100% of the UV and ultraviolet light that's going to be harmful and they're going to protect you as you're observing the eclipse.

Dr David Rogers:     So you may have read on the internet about other things that you could use while you're watching the eclipse and that they could protect your eyes. Some people will suggest stacking a pair of sunglasses. Some people have suggested like using neutral density filters, various neutral density filters they may have on their camera, smoked glass, x-ray film that's been exposed, even potato chip bags, and you'll even see things about how you could use emergency blankets, those little thin sheets of reflective emergency blankets. DVDs have been suggested, but it's important to understand that these are not safe and they do not block all of the ultraviolet and infrared light that will cause this solar retinopathy. There is only 1 lens that, aside from a solar eclipse, a filter that's ISO certified.

Dr David Rogers:     And NASA approves this as well. So a welding glass shield that is rated 14 or higher can be used as a filter to look at the sun, but that's the only other filter.

Dr Mike Patrick:     And so you really do want to look for this ISO and it's 12312-2 certification. So make sure that the glasses that you and your kids have do really do meet that criteria. And then you also want to check the integrity of the glasses, right? Make sure there's no scratches or tears or pinholes in those.

Dr David Rogers:     That's a good point. Some people have said that you cannot reuse a solar eclipse glass or a pair of glasses that you had used in a previous eclipse, for example in that 2017 eclipse, And studies have been done to say that's not entirely true as long as the integrity of the lens is intact and there's no scratches or breaks or crinkles. You didn't bend the lens itself. So if the filter, a paper, or the material in the lens itself is intact, then it should be safe.

Dr Mike Patrick:     So we have our ISO certified eclipse glasses for everybody in the family. How can parents then ensure that their children use those eclipse glasses correctly?

Dr David Rogers:     Well, I was talking with an emergency room physician, and I want to credit him, Ryan Squire, because I hadn't heard of this before. And he's an emergency room physician at OhioHealth, and he gave the analogy that if your child is capable enough to understand how to protect themselves from scalding hot water, then they are competent enough to understand how to protect themselves and view a solar eclipse. And I really liked that analogy that he shared, okay? So that's a good benchmark to use. So if you think your kid, your child, can protect themselves from getting burned with hot water, then it's OK to start explaining to them this concept.

Dr David Rogers:     But it has to be done with observation, right? You don't let your kid play with hot water. You supervise them, okay? And you're going to need to supervise them when they're observing the eclipse because we've all glimpsed at the Sun, right? But we don't do it repeatedly and the eclipse is a time when they're going to want to look at it multiple times.

Dr David Rogers:     So if you catch them doing it once it's going to be okay but make sure that they follow the protocol. And there are steps on how to use solar eclipse glasses. This is pretty simple and although the steps can be quite, they seem quite, I guess, technical and I'll go through those, it can be simplified. And the simple steps are just this, I'll say that first. Look away, put your glasses on, enjoy the eclipse, look away, take the glasses off.

Dr David Rogers:     So look away, put them on, watch the eclipse, look away, take them off. That's it. It's really just that simple. But these solar eclipse glasses come probably flat And you have to fold them so that they fit comfortably on an adult or a child. And they can be adjusted, make sure they fit correctly and that they'll stay in place.

Dr David Rogers:     When you're out there and you're in the field or in the backyard or wherever your location is, your safe location, and it shouldn't be in the middle of a street or a turnaround, you know. You stand, you know, facing the eclipse, but you're looking down and then you put the glasses on and you wear them over top of regular glasses or contact lenses. They're designed to be won that way. You put them on and then you just look up. And like I said, you enjoy whatever you're, you know, you watch as long as you wanna watch, but you never put them on or take them off while you're looking at the sun.

Dr David Rogers:     So to take them off, let's say you want to look away, go to the bathroom, get something to eat, you look down and then you take them off. And those are the steps.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Very important. And so they can go on the outside of your regular glasses if you wear regular glasses, they just fit right over top. Okay, now what about during totality? So if you are in the zone of totality, you mentioned that you see that diamond ring at the beginning of totality and you see it again at the end of totality, can you take your solar eclipse glasses off during totality?

Dr David Rogers:     Very important point, and this brings up some safety issues too. That's the reason why people flock towards that zone of totality, because this is the 1 time that you can take the glasses off and stare at the at really the Sun's atmosphere. You're really not seeing the Sun, right? You're seeing the corona, or really the solar flares in the atmosphere of the Sun as it becomes visible around the Moon. And it's a fascinating experience to see.

Dr David Rogers:     But you have to know, and there are apps out there, the duration of totality in your area or be ready to put your glasses back on immediately when that diamond ring starts to appear again okay and that That is an important point because if you are in an area outside of the zone of totality, even 99%, it's not safe to look at the sun. Okay, just because it's dark, let me emphasize this, just because it's dark and it seems easier to look at the sun. It doesn't mean it's safe. On a cloudy day, it's still dangerous to stare at the sun. Through the filters and sunglasses, it's easier, but it's still dangerous to look at the sun.

Dr David Rogers:     Okay, don't do it. Very, very important point.

Dr Mike Patrick:     And then how can families make sure that child, I imagine these glasses are designed more for an adult-sized face, are there any tricks to getting the glasses to fit safely on a smaller face?

Dr David Rogers:     Well, usually along the side of the glasses there's different bend points and they can bend at different areas and you can you can adjust them and bend them so that they actually fit a narrower face. Okay, And I would suggest doing that and making sure that they fit before or you've got them bent in the configuration you need them to be in, you know, before you're outside and and they're trying to put them on their feet. And again, supervision, right? Supervision is key.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, absolutely. Have you seen a total eclipse before? Have you, have you witnessed 1 in person?

Dr David Rogers:     I have not, but I will witness this 1.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yes, yes, That's gonna, it's just gonna be so exciting and I know as chairman of the total eclipse committee for the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, you must be really excited to move and moving forward there will be more total eclipses that affect other areas around the world, and you'll have some expertise with direct interaction with the solar eclipse.

Dr David Rogers:     Yeah, I remember seeing my first eclipse though as a grade school child and making those pinhole occluders. And that's how we watched it because I didn't have solar eclipse classes at that time. But I remember as a grade school student watching an eclipse, fascinating.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Speaking of schools, what are some ways that schools can participate in this event safely, especially ones that may be in that zone of totality. And I know here in central Ohio, some school districts have said, we're not even going to have school on that day. Although, then those kids have to count on their parents to help them see it safely. So, I mean, there may be an argument made for having school so that all the kids can definitely watch this at a safe fashion.

Dr David Rogers:     Well, you know, I would like to reiterate again that the Sun is no more dangerous on the day of the eclipse than any other day other than we're going to be interested in looking at it. So kids play outside under the Sun every day, right? They just don't stare at it. And I think with the correct plan in place, any school could remain open and develop a plan for their students to watch the eclipse together. Many students in 2017 did have viewing parties, for example.

Dr David Rogers:     But this 1 is unique in another way in that that eclipse will hit Ohio just after 3 in the afternoon, which is right when a lot of schools are going to be released. And so there, a lot of people will predict some traffic issues as people are going to be moving along the path of totality to try to find the best location to view the eclipse if there's a cloud cover here or there, and people stopping along the side of the road perhaps to even look up and see it, or congregating in various areas. And so there is an expectation that maybe it will be difficult for schools to let out at that particular time or to even have a controlled viewing event right at the end of the school day and to have any control over what is happening. So I think it's very fair and reasonable that many of the schools across the state have made the plan, that is their plan, for safe viewing to release early.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, yeah, that does make sense. And it's such a unique day, I feel like, even if you released early, it'd be really cool, I think, for schools to sort of talk about the solar eclipse, maybe watch videos about it, you know, of course talk through safety stuff, but really focus on the science, I think would be a great plan for that day if you are gonna have school in session for at least part of the day. So what if a child accidentally looks at the sun during a solar eclipse? Now you mentioned, if you see your kid doing it, say, hey, don't and don't get too concerned if it's just once. But we do know it's a cumulative effect and so, you know, how long is too long and or how many times is too many times?

Dr Mike Patrick:     I mean, What should parents be thinking about in terms of if they look down and see that their child is looking at the sun?

Dr David Rogers:     Well, I certainly don't want to incite panic prematurely, right, but we all have this natural defensive mechanism that I mentioned that prevents us from staring too long. It's that repeated event again and again and again I think that's going to get you or any child in a total solar eclipse phenomenon. So it's going to be educating them, repeatedly educating them, and that's why supervision is key. You just can't allow your child to do this unsupervised. So I would caution every parent to be mindful of what their child is doing during the event and make sure that they have solar eclipse glasses available to them.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, yeah, absolutely. What about the symptoms of solar retinopathy? What should parents be on the lookout for, especially if they see their child, you know, looking at the sun, you're supervising them and saying, hey, don't look directly at it, make sure your glasses are on. What signs would make them be concerned that there really is something happened?

Dr David Rogers:     Well, have you ever looked at a bright light and had this after image of this spot that you see in your vision, that's gonna happen even if you looked at the sun for a second, right? So I think kids will, or children or adults, for example, may experience a symptom like that immediately. But true solar retinopathy has this lingering effect and symptoms will persist sometimes 30 minutes or even present 12 hours or more later. Okay? And these will be persistent, ongoing watery eyes.

Dr David Rogers:     The term for that is epiphora. You can have discomfort in your eyes, a sense of just irritation. That is, the medical term we use for that is called asthenopia. You can have photophobia or sensitivity to light. Headaches are not uncommon, but probably the most concerning would be a blind spot or a little multiple blind spots in the eye because you've been staring or your eye is darting around as you're looking at the Sun.

Dr David Rogers:     Little multiple blind spots in the center of the vision, and the medical term for that is called a scotoma. It's a blind spot, and it can be in 1 or both eyes if you were squinting, you know, using 1 eye at a time, but usually it's a bilateral phenomenon. If it's really severe, you may have a loss of your central color vision or maybe even seeing things that the wrong size, like you think something appears smaller than it usually is. That's dyschromatopsia or metamorphopsia. And these can all lead to permanent vision loss.

Dr David Rogers:     And again, if you're really staring and intently looking at the sun, those injuries can take just seconds to occur, honestly. But we don't stare at the Sun for prolonged seconds. It's usually milliseconds that we're looking at the Sun and then we get that discomfort feeling and we look away.

Dr Mike Patrick:     When you say that the the vision loss is permanent, is there any… So If kids do have symptoms and they get, is there anything you can do to try to minimize a permanent damage from happening?

Dr David Rogers:     This is unfortunate, Dr. Mike. The answer is no. There are theoretical things. Remember I told you that it was photo-oxidative damage?

Dr David Rogers:     So people have thought that maybe antioxidants could help. Steroids have been tried, but steroids have been shown to, in this particular case, potentially cause a separate problem. And they can actually be harmful in the long run leading to a problem called central serous retinopathy. That's another discussion and another mechanism. But they aren't always as helpful as you might think.

Dr David Rogers:     The honest and straightforward answer here is time is the cure and it depends on the initial vision at presentation. So if your vision tends to be about 20-50 or better on your initial evaluation with the ophthalmologist, then you're probably going to get better within months to as long as a year. But if your vision is worse than that, then it's probably going to result in a permanent loss of vision. Now even if it is 20, 50 or better, even though you may recover a lot of vision, you may still end up having that tiny central scotoma or blind spot. Remember that scotoma means blind spot.

Dr David Rogers:     So you may have a tiny little central blind spot, but you may functionally feel like your vision has essentially recovered. Yeah.

Dr Mike Patrick:     So the bottom line is it's really best to prevent this from happening. And making sure that you're… Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dr David Rogers:     I mean, the message should be loud and clear. Prevention is the treatment.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, yeah. And so get those eclipse glasses and we'll have links in the show notes for you to hopefully be able to find a place to get them and make sure that they do have the correct certification. So how then can parents and educators use this experience, not only because of the excitement of the day, but really maybe to foster an ongoing interest in astronomy and science among children?

Dr David Rogers:     Yeah. You know, we do have the Perkins Observatory up at Ohio Wesleyan University, a little plug for them, right? Although they're not going to have any April 8th events, they don't have anything scheduled there, they do have exceptional astronomical experiences for children. They have educational experiences all the time, and they are Central Ohio's premier observatory. But talk about the eclipse, let me tell you some fun facts, okay?

Dr David Rogers:     How's this 1? Every year the moon is slowly moving away from the earth at a rate of 4 centimeters a year, right? So at that rate, eventually the moon will be so far away from the earth that it'll be too far away to produce total solar eclipses anymore. And humans on Earth will no longer be able to see this amazing phenomenon. So there's something to consider.

Dr David Rogers:     You know, this may be your last opportunity. Although, to be honest, it's going to take 700 million or what 600 million years for that to occur, you should still probably get out there and see 1 while you can. Because if you stay at 1 location, the chances of seeing a solar eclipse happening in 1 location is about every 375 years. So it really is a rare phenomenon and a unique opportunity.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Once in a lifetime.

Dr David Rogers:     It can be. It really can. And don't think that this is all bad, okay? Because of a total solar eclipse, there was a Dr. Meyer Schwickarath, okay?

Dr David Rogers:     He was a German ophthalmologist and back in 1945 there was this total solar eclipse that happened in Hamburg, Germany. And after that eclipse took place, this ophthalmologist noted that many of his patients had suffered a solar retinopathy, burns in their retina, that left them with permanent vision loss. And this was quite troubling to him. He lost sleep over this and in 1 of those sleepless nights he conceived the idea of photocoagulation or using light to disrupt the retina and he contrived the concept of using this light to treat retinal detachments. And 4 years later he built this contraption on top of the University of Hamburg hospital and he used a telescope to focus light down into the operating room through mirrors and lenses so that he could perform the first photo coagulation of a retinal detachment in 1949.

Dr David Rogers:     And because of that treatment, we now have our modern day lasers. So it's not all bad.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, yeah. That is fascinating. I imagine today you couldn't even do something like that. Can you imagine an institutional review board? Like, Can we put a telescope on the roof and make a series of mirrors that go down in the operating room?

Dr Mike Patrick:     That's not happening today.

Dr David Rogers:     Yeah, and the unpredictability of the clouds. Sorry, your

Dr Mike Patrick:     case is

Dr David Rogers:     canceled today.

Dr Mike Patrick:     We really do appreciate you stopping by and talking to us today. Lots of links in the show notes for folks to Learn more about this. Of course, we'll have a link to pediatric eye care at Nationwide Children's Hospital NASA as we've mentioned has lots of information and resources on this total solar eclipse and we'll put links to those in the show notes. Often NASA provides great public service information and educational stuff so we are happy to include their resources in our show notes. The American Astronomical Society, the National Eye Institute, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, as I mentioned before the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Dr Mike Patrick:     And I actually wrote a 700 children's blog post during that 2017 eclipse. Watch the Great American Eclipse safely, and so we'll put a link to that because all of the things that made it safe in 2017 also makes it safe in 2024.

Dr David Rogers:     Well, let me put a plug in there for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Strabismus website that has how to view a solar eclipse safely and solar eclipse blogs on there for children as well.

Dr Mike Patrick:     Yeah, and we will definitely include that in the show notes too. So once again, Dr. Dave Rogers, Pediatric Ophthalmologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Thank you so much for stopping by and talking with us today.

Dr David Rogers:     You're very welcome. Thank you for having me.

Dr Mike Patrick:     We are back with just enough time to say thanks once again to all of you for taking time out of your day and making PediaCast a part of it. Really do appreciate that. Thanks also to our guest this week, Dr. David Rogers, Chief of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Don't forget you can find us wherever podcasts are found.

Dr Mike Patrick:     We're in the Apple and Google podcast apps, iHeartRadio, Spotify, SoundCloud, Amazon Music, YouTube, and most other podcast apps for iOS and Android. Our landing site is You'll find our entire archive of past programs there, along with show notes for each of the episodes, our terms of use agreement, and that handy contact page if you would like to suggest a future topic for the program. Reviews are also helpful wherever you get your podcasts. We always appreciate when you share your thoughts about the show and we love connecting with you on social media.

Dr Mike Patrick:     You'll find us on Facebook, Instagram, threads, LinkedIn, and Twitter X. Simply search for Pediacast. Also don't forget about our sibling podcast, Pediacast CME. That stands for Continuing Medical Education. It's similar to this program.

Dr Mike Patrick:     We do turn up the science a couple notches and offer free continuing medical education credit for those who listen. And it's category 1 credit, not only for physicians, but also for nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, social workers, and dentists. And since Nationwide Children's is jointly accredited by many professional organizations, all of the ones that I mentioned, in fact, it's likely we offer the exact credits you need to fulfill your state's continuing medical education requirements. Of course, you want to be sure the content of the episode matches your scope of practice. Shows and details are available at the landing site for that program,

Dr Mike Patrick:     You can also listen wherever podcasts are found. Simply search for PDA cast CME. Thanks again for stopping by and until next time, this is Dr. Mike saying, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay involved with your kids. So long, everybody.

Dr Mike Patrick:     So long, everybody.

Announcer:     ♪ This program is a production of Nationwide Children's. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time on PediaCast.

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