All it took was 20 seconds.
That’s how long two Oregon men say they looked at a partial solar eclipse with their naked eyes 55 years ago before it burned their retinas, causing permanent blindness.
“Nothing has changed,” 70-year-old Lou Tomososki told NBC’s “Today” show of the damage he sustained. “It doesn’t get any worse or better.”
Tomososki said he was walking home from high school in Bend, Oregon, with his friend, Roger Duvall, in 1962 when they both looked up at the sun, each with one eye.
Both men are now warning people who plan to watch Monday’s eclipse to make sure they do so with proper safety protections.
“We both got burned at the same time,” Tomososki told “Today.” “He got the left eye and I got the right eye.”
“We didn’t know right that second that we damaged our eyes,” Duvall, also 70, told The Washington Post. “At that time, we thought we were invincible, as most teenagers do.”
Tomososki said they had been warned to use a pinhole projector box to look at the eclipse safely. Because they didn’t, he said, he now has a little blind spot in the center of his right eye.
Doctors warn that even when the sun is entirely covered, its rays can still damage your eyes.
“When you partially obscure the sun with the moon, it’s not so bright, and it’s not so painful to actually look at it,” Dr. G. Baker Hubbard of the Emory Eye Center in Atlanta told Fox 5. “But, even though it’s not painful, those harmful rays are still getting in your eyes and focused right onto the center of your retina, and that’s where it does the damage.”
Need some tips and advice on how to watch Monday’s spectacle without damaging your eyes? Learn more about what you can do here.