Less than a week away is the highly-anticipated solar eclipse, and by now you've heard the warning -- if you don't wear approved solar eclipse glasses, you could damage your eyes.

But why? Why is looking at the eclipse any worse than looking at the sun on a normal day? And, doesn't the eclipse mean the sun is going dark? How should you wear eclipse glasses, if you already wear regular glasses?


To answer these questions, we reached out to Dr. Lindsay Totten, an optometrist.


First, Dr. Totten explained why the sun can damage our eyes. She said just like the sun can burn your skin without sunscreen, it can burn your eye tissue without sunglasses. UV damage goes through your pupil to your retina, which sends the signal from your eye to the brain. So, you can get temporary or permanent blind spots.

Dr. Totten said the danger with the eclipse hurting your eyes isn't the eclipse, itself. The problem is looking up at the sun for an abnormal amount of time while waiting for the total solar eclipse to arrive.

"Our bodies are designed to protect ourselves. When the moon comes over the sun, it's going to be shadowed, and you'll feel more comfortable. But...we won't be in the path of totality," she said.

In Tampa, we'll see only about 81 percent of the total eclipse, so there will still be some sun showing through the moon.

Because we won't go totally dark, Dr. Totten said you'll need to wear your ISO-approved glasses the entire time while gazing up at the sun. But, how should you wear them -- especially if you already wear regular prescription glasses?

"Some people have asked me do I put them under my glasses or over, and you want to put them over. The glasses magnify the light, so you want to put the filter in front of the magnifier," she explained.


So, to reiterate, we verified the total solar eclipse, itself, isn't what hurts your eyes, but looking up at the sun while waiting for it will.

And, since we won't get total darkness in Tampa Bay, don't take off your eclipse glasses. Or, just watch the eclipse indirectly -- through a live stream on the internet, instead.