Experts really can't stress enough how much you absolutely shouldn't look at this Monday's eclipse without proper eye protection—and maybe not even then. "There are serious risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse directly, even when using solar filter glasses," USA Today quotes Ohio optometrist Michael Schecter as saying. He says one of the problems is that during an eclipse, the moon covers enough of the sun to allow it to be viewed without pain, tricking people into thinking it isn't doing harm. And NASA warns that eclipse glasses that filter out 100% of harmful rays still need to be used perfectly—for example, by not peeking over the top of them. Just a few seconds of looking at a solar eclipse can do lasting damage.
A recent case out of Florida shows just what that damage can entail, Live Science reports. A 12-year-old girl was taken to the emergency room with blurry vision after she spent a minute looking directly at the sun. She suffered solar retinopathy, which is what happens when extremely bright light creates molecules that kill cells in the retina, creating blurry vision and blind spots. There is no treatment for solar retinopathy, and while vision can improve, it will rarely return to "normal." In this case, the girl's vision never improved. The risk of looking at an eclipse is the same as staring at the sun. NJ.com has a bunch of safety tips for viewing Monday's eclipse, including instructions not to use regular sunglasses. And Quartz warns that researchers find young males are the most likely to damage their eyes while looking at an eclipse. (Read more solar eclipse stories.)