Man who damaged eye in solar eclipse warns others

WILKES BARRE-SCRANTON, Pa. (CNN) – We’re just days away from Monday’s total solar eclipse. When doctors and other experts tell you to protect your eyes while viewing the eclipse, they’re not kidding.

James Holt explained what happened to him in when he stared at a solar eclipse decades ago.

In the 1960’s, James Holt of Pittston Township was only about 10 years old. He says back then, he was preparing to watch a partial solar eclipse.

“We had heard that if you wanted to see the eclipse you can look through negatives of a picture,” Holt said. “Dates me how old I am, but you look through the negatives, get several of them stacked together and you can see it and shouldn’t have a problem.”

Holt was able to view the eclipse without a problem. Years later, he said he noticed an issue with his eyesight. It turns out he damaged a portion of his retina in his right eye from viewing the eclipse.

“Using both eyes, I don’t have a problem with it at all. Just using the right eye like I say looking at small print or something close up small it distorts it,” Holt said.

Former NASA employee and current Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Misericordia University, Doctor Heidi Manning wants to warn people about properly protecting their eyes when viewing the eclipse.

“Don’t be confused that well 75 percent of the sun is blocked so, it’s not that big of a deal. There is still a tremendous amount of light coming and it can cause damage to your eyes in just fractions of a second. So you never want to look directly at the sun.”

Manning suggests purchasing protective glasses or using a box or another homemade device to view the eclipse without directly looking into the sun.

Holt agrees it’s a fascinating thing to look at, but urges viewers to be safe.

“That’s the main thing is be safe. Don’t ruin your eyes. It is not worth ruining your eyes over.”

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