Eclipse Blindness: Through Charlie's Eyes

A Spokane man, and member of the KREM 2 family gives a first hand account of what happens when you watch the eclipse without proper eye protection. 

A Spokane man, and member of the KREM 2 family gives a first hand account of what happens when you watch the eclipse without proper eye protection. None

SPOKANE, Wash.— A Spokane man viewed an eclipse without eye protection as a child and has been living with the damage ever since.

Charlie Laborte has been part of the KREM 2 family for many years. He is best known for his behind the scenes work during the newscasts and his contagious sense of humor.

He is also known for wearing sunglasses inside.

Years before Laborte joined the KREM 2 family, 8-year-old Charlie looked at the sun the wrong way during an eclipse.

Laborte said adults told him to look at the eclipse through a blue filter, kind of like eclipse glasses. He said, at the time, he wanted to get a better look at the eclipse.

“I didn’t listen. I got impatient.  I wanted to get a closer look,” said Laborte.

Dr. Heavin Maier at "Eyes for Life” said he is well aware of the risks and what's called "eclipse blindness."

The sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent eye damage happens when looking directly at the sun without proper eye protection.

“Charlie was not safely protected as a child so he still sees spots in his vision in either eye," said Dr. Maier.

Most people have heard the warnings about looking directly into the sun during the eclipse. However, not many people know the effects first hand.

"Afterward I started getting headaches and seeing a dot everywhere. Like if someone takes a flashcube. That dot's been with me, you know, since then," said Laborte.

That is because looking at the sun with the naked eye is not unlike burning an ant with a magnifying glass, according to Dr. Maier. She said it can burn a hole in the most important part of the eye in the central section called the fovia.

“So what happens is when you look straight ahead, boom, right in your center of vision you're going to see a black spot,” said Dr. Maier.

Most people will not be viewing the eclipse in the path of totality so there will be a sliver of sun visible behind the moon the entire time.

"So even the sliver, even if you have most of the sun occluded that little crescent is strong enough that it's going to do the damage," said Dr. Maier.

Laborte still feels the effects of looking into the sun to this day. He said headaches often hammer at his head.

"Oh my god. I can't believe I did this when I was a kid," said Laborte.

Laborte said he will be skipping this eclipse, at least the live-action version.

"I'm going to look at pictures this time. I'm going to look at the pictures that we take. You know, I'm not even going to go outside," said Laborte.

Experts said as long as you have proper eye protection, you can watch the eclipse. There are also directions online to make a pinhole camera as an “indirect” way of observing the sun. 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment