Eclipse Damages Wyoming Man's Eyes

Experts say the eclipse across America can cause serious eye damage. If you don’t really believe your eyes will be damaged if you look at the eclipse, then you should hear the story of a Worland, Wyoming man who was partially blinded when he glanced at an eclipse 50 years ago.

Gard Ferguson is telling his story because he wants everyone to know: it can happen to you, or your children.

Children may not have heard the warnings, and adults may not believe them: You risk permanent eye damage if you look at the sun during the eclipse.

Worland E-M-T and ambulance volunteer Gard Ferguson is concerned he may have to help someone else Monday, who made the same mistake he did, as a child.

He said as he looked at the reporter with one eye closed, “I can’t see the middle of your face, because it’s not there.”

Ferguson suffered permanent partial blindness when he glanced at an eclipse in the early sixties.

Ferguson explained, “And I remember my older brother saying, hey, let’s take a look. And we went out and looked up.”

Ferguson said he didn’t stare into the sun, but glanced at it a few times.
He said, “ But, the damage was done.”

Ferguson’s optometrist was able to “see” into the damaged eye, with his new equipment.

He pointed to a tiny white area on the screen," this little light spot there is actually permanent damage that will never come back.”

Optometrist Dr. Carl Cottrell said, “It’s called Solar Maculopathy. It’s a very severe thing because it causes permanent damage.”

Dr. Cottrell said the effect is similar to macular degeneration. He said the sun’s U-V rays are incredibly strong.

He said, “They will burn the retina, and those cells never come back.”

Ferguson’s eye was damaged when he lived in Thermopolis. Now he lives in Worland. Worland, like most of Wyoming, is not in the path of Totality. That means there is no time that it is safe to look at the sun during the eclipse.

So, Ferguson wants everyone to know, they have to have proper eye protection, or look away that day.

He explained, “People can think wearing sunglasses is good enough. No. You have to have the proper eye protection. Do not look at it. Don’t look at it. It’s not worth the permanent damage of loss of vision. You know your eyes, that’s the only ones you have.”

Cottrell says he’s already seeing blindness in children who live in the Northern Wyoming community, who dare each other to look at the sun.

He explained, “They’re in elementary school and they will have permanent damage.”

Dr. Cottrell said even if you are in the path of totality, where the moon completely covers the sun, you should use proper “eclipse glasses” that protect your eyes from the sun, or view the eclipse using a mirror, or pinhole device to cast a shadow on a wall of piece of paper.