Protecting Your Eyes While Watching the Solar Eclipse

Protecting Your Eyes While Watching the Solar Eclipse

This month sees the return of a rare astronomical phenomenon. The total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st will turn day into night from coast to coast across the United States. The path of the full eclipse will cover from Oregon to South Carolina, areas where, at totality, the sun will appear to be completely blocked by the face of the moon. Those outside of the direct path of the moon’s shadow will see the eclipse as a partial solar eclipse, but either experience will be an event that is not to be missed. The last total solar eclipse crossing the entire United States was in 1918. As the moon moves between the Earth and the Sun, the sky will begin to darken, and at its peak, celestial bodies, such as planets and some of the brightest stars, may become visible. The solar atmosphere—the corona—will also be visible, and as its name implies, a halo of light resembling a crown radiating with swirls and jets of solar energy will appear as well. In order to safely view an object as bright as the sun, special filters must be used. Looking at the sun directly with the naked eye—even for a few seconds—can cause eye damage and possibly blindness. NASA states that at the moment of the sun’s total eclipse behind the moon, it is safe to view the sun without protection, but using special eclipse filters will be necessary to know when that moment of totality occurs. Never look directly at the sun unprotected. Special disposable glasses can be purchased or ordered with dark filters specifically made for solar...
First Aid for Your Eyes

First Aid for Your Eyes

Many first aid courses focus on teaching how to treat cuts and lacerations and perform CPR, but they can overlook eye-related emergency care. Since nearly two million emergency room visits stem from eye injuries or conditions each year, the lack of emphasis on eye care represents a critical gap in first aid trainees’ knowledge—both for themselves and for others. If you want to learn more so that you can be ready to help provide emergency care for someone afflicted by an eye injury, take a look at these tips on eye-related first aid! Of course, first aid treatments for the eyes vary widely depending on the nature of the injury, but there are several universal principles to follow. The first step of any first aid procedure is to call 911 immediately so the victim can receive professional medical attention. If you need to provide treatment while the ambulance is on its way, however, wash your hands—ideally with soap and water—to prevent further contamination or infection. Additionally, never perform first aid without making sure that the area is safe, since you’ll be of no use to the victim if you get hurt, too. Bleeding or Lacerations To treat someone who’s eye is bleeding, perhaps as the result of a puncture wound or direct trauma, cover the eye with a clean cloth or an eye shield and head to the hospital as soon as possible. Be careful not to apply pressure to the eyeball, and if there is an object embedded in the eye, don’t try to remove it. Chemical Exposure Without protective eyewear, it can be surprisingly easy for workplace...

Retinal and Iris Scanning: How Does It Work?

Today, technologies that once lived only in the minds of science fiction writers are becoming commonplace in every area of our lives. For example, biometrics—or methods of measuring biological features for purposes of identification—are now widespread in all areas of our lives, whether we recognize them or not. Biometrics explain why it’s second-nature for many of us to activate our phones with a fingerprint scan or why certain devices only respond to the sound of our unique voices. One of the most futuristic forms of biometrics involves iris or retinal scanning. You might be familiar with these technologies from movies or TV shows, but how does they work in the real world? Retinal Scanning The retina is a complex web of tissue and neurons that line the back of the eye, and it plays an essential role in vision by transmitting light into neural signals that our brains process as images. Retinas are so complex, in fact, that no two individuals—not even identical twins—share similar patterns. Combined with the fact that retinas do not change throughout our entire lives (with few exceptions), the uniqueness of retinas makes them a perfect biometric marker. Retinal scans operate by shining a beam of low-energy infrared light into an individual’s eye as they look into a scanner. This beam of light “draws” a path onto the retina. During this process, the amount of light reflected will vary depending on the individual’s unique retinal pattern, and the scanner converts this pattern into a string of computer code and records it in a database. In the future, when individuals return to the retinal scanner, it...
Vision and Virtual Reality

Vision and Virtual Reality

In recent years, virtual reality (VR) technology has taken the world by storm. All it takes is a headset, and suddenly, you might find yourself at the bottom of the ocean, the farthest reaches of space, or travelling the globe as if you were actually there. While VR’s success has been the result of a series of impressive technological innovations, it also depends on how effectively our eyes can process virtual images and convince our brains we’re having a real experience. This is no small task, and in fact, VR incorporates several visual concepts in order to create compelling virtual worlds in front of us. The principle that underlies VR is that of stereoscopic vision, which allows humans to perceive depth and distance. Thanks to stereoscopic vision, each of our eyes sees similar but different images than our other eye—this phenomenon is known as retinal disparity—and the brain processes these images by matching the images while accounting for the slight differences, which creates visual depth. VR headsets replicate stereoscopic vision by displaying two sets of images at different angles, which causes the brain to interpret the images as an open world and not a flat screen. VR further creates the illusion of depth (and thus visual authenticity) through the use of parallax effects, which cause objects that are farther from you to appear smaller and move slower, image shading, and other techniques. Effective VR headsets and software must also consider field of view (FOV). Humans have an FOV of about 180 degrees while looking straight ahead and about 270 degrees when the eyes move, so headsets must come close...
Caring for Your Baby’s Eyes

Caring for Your Baby’s Eyes

Newborn babies require a lot of care and attention to keep them safe from germs that could compromise their tiny systems. In addition to ensuring they have proper vaccines and fresh diapers, parents and caretakers need to protect their babies’ eyes from damage and infection. In utero, a baby’s eyes start to develop around the 17th day of gestation, and by day 50, the iris is fully developed. By the time they emerge from the womb, a newborn’s eyes are about two thirds of their full potential, so it’s important for caregivers to make sure that nothing interrupts the continuing development of lenses, corneas, and pigmentation. There are three main areas to keep an eye on for the first year of a baby’s life. Ophthalmia Neonatorum Known more commonly as infant eye infection to laypeople, ophthalmia neonatorum is a condition that develops in newborns’ eyes as a result of gonorrhea or chlamydia. If the mother is infected with one of these STIs and delivers vaginally, the baby is at risk for picking up the infections and suffering from partial or total vision loss. Today, doctors will instill a newborn’s eyes with erythromycin ointment, which is comfortable for the baby and reduces the likelihood of infections caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia. If a doctor knows that the mother has these infections, the doctor can recommend a C-section, which will totally avoid passing on the infection, but often these STIs present no symptoms and mothers are unaware they’re infected. Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction Once babies start to produce tears around the three-week mark, parents need to keep an eye out for nasolacrimal...