TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The warnings seem far-fetched, but experts say you really can go blind from looking at an eclipse.
Dr. Babak Marefat, an ophthalmologist with Topeka's Cotton O'Neil Clinic, says staring too long at intense light causes a condition solar retinopathy. The light can permanently damage the sensitive tissue of the retina and macula, stealing your center of vision.
"As the eclipse becomes partial, then into totality, the intensity drops enough to for us to physically be able to stare into the sun, but that sliver of the sunlight that shines through is still intense enough that the image it creates on the retina will potentially destroy that sliver of cells," he explained.
The damage can happen in seconds, and you don't feel it.
"With an eclipse...there might be this false sense of security that allows a person to look into the sunlight longer than you normally would," Marefat said.
He added this eclipse could be especially risky.
"Because the time of the day is very close to noon, it means that the sun will be at maximum intensity," he said.
The only safe way to catch a glimpse is with special eclipse glasses. Regular sunglasses - even several pair - or welding helmets are not enough. Be sure the glasses are stamped as meeting the ISO standard and double-check that they're dark enough.
"With eclipse glasses, under normal conditions, it looks like the room lights are turned off - you won't even be able to see anything, " Marefat said.
The only time it's safe to look without protection is during 100 percent totality. If any sun remains and if there's any doubt, glasses on - or use something like a pinhole camera.
Marefat says a few precautions are worth - and not just to protect your site!
"This is a big deal! And it's happening here! How cool is that?" he said.
Eclipse glasses are available at stores like Walmart and Dillons. Dillons told 13 NEWS they do have more on order if a store is sold out.
Also, Helping Hands Humane Society in Topeka is selling eclipse glasses as a fundraiser. They are sold out, but will have more available starting Saturday, Aug. 12, at the shelter.