If you were keeping track of the total solar eclipse over different parts of North America on Monday, you probably also saw that Donald Trump decided to look straight into the sun with no protection, in spite of advice against doing so. Naturally, social media users took the incident as an opportunity to crack a few lighthearted jokes. But one tweet juxtaposed a photo of the Canadian prime minister looking at the sun against Trump's picture to show the difference between Trump and Justin Trudeau watching the eclipse.
In a tweet shared by "Snowy Egret," the user said, "Watching the eclipse. American versus Canadian leadership [...] this kind of speaks for itself."
In the photo, you can see Trudeau viewing the total solar eclipse with a pair of glasses on. This is the safest and most standard method of watching a full solar eclipse. Without the glasses, solar retinopathy can occur, in which the eyes suffer considerable damage and develop blind spots later on.
Egret wasn't the only one to notice the rather irresponsible way Trump looked into the sky; other users had already jokingly predicted that the president would attempt to look at the solar eclipse without the help of glasses. They weren't wrong after all.
Trudeau shared an image of himself looking at the "amazing" solar eclipse with appropriate glasses on. Many Twitter users couldn't help but notice the stark difference between Trump's manner of handling today's incredible total eclipse and Trudeau's safe way of witnessing it. One user commented, "See you're [sic] smart guy! You're wearing your #SolarEclipse glasses! #Trump, not so much."
While some may think that the reaction to Trump going glasses-less was unnecessary and overemotional, science has consistently cautioned against looking straight at the sun. But in the case of a total solar eclipse, the warning becomes even stronger.
The reason for this is fairly simple. During a solar eclipse, our eyes assume that it is safe to look at the sky due to the dim light. But in reality, the light causes even more damage to the eyes, leading to blind spots and solar retinopathy. While it may not lead to permanent blindness, staring at a solar eclipse can lead to significant damage to your central vision. Think of blurry or faded spots. It's so frequent for these cases to appear that ophthalmologists and optometrists prepare themselves for patients right after an eclipse takes place.
Your best bet is to use the appropriate glasses to view a solar eclipse. In case you don't have one, create a pinhole camera on your own. It only takes a few minutes. And it's much better than possibly and permanently hurting your eyes.