Did you find the full solar eclipse to be thrilling and energizing? Hope so. And even if not, you can start planning to see the next one in 2019 in South America and parts of Asia, or in 2024 in eastern Canada, the central U.S., and part of Mexico.
If you got your hands on good, protective optical gear for the Great American Eclipse, such as the special glasses that complied with the ISO 12312-2 safety standards, store it well, and it should be good to go, even a few years from now.
Or you might want to donate them—the global nonprofit Astronomers Without Borders group is putting on a big online push to collect the give-away glasses for youngsters in the developing world for so they safely can watch the next total eclipse in their areas. Smithsonian Magazine says the group in 2013 rounded up, then donated thousands of such specs so youngsters in west and central Africa could watch a celestial event that year.
Eye protection is a fundamental part of safe, fun solar eclipse viewing, of course, though President Trump may have set a terrible example of looking up, unprotected and even briefly, at the sun.
Fortunately, most Americans heeded eye safety warnings, and hospitals—which had geared up to treat retina damage and other harms suffered by millions who traveled far or paused at home or at work to eclipse gaze—said their facilities were calm and stuck with mostly regular routines during the Aug. 21 event that raced across the nation. Eye specialists are still braced to treat those who failed to protect themselves sufficiently and who over time may experience vision impairments. Many of these cases can be treated if not too severe.
In my practice, because I so often see the significant harms that patients can suffer while seeking medical services, I was pleased to see that tens of millions of Americans made a major, safe, wholesome, and unifying event of the eclipse—an unusual astronomic event because the path of its totality fell in areas across only the United States.
I’m glad there haven’t been major reports of viewers being blinded or suffering other major medical damage attributable to the eclipse. A best-case scenario would also be that this event sparks even greater interest in astronomy, science, and yes, medical science and health care. It did offer a spectacle in the sky—as I can duly report, having seen it (and captured some photos of it) in excellent visibility in the central part of the nation. As the kids say, it was awesome. May we all witness many more and learn more, too, about the cosmos and our tiny place in it.