98th Annual Meeting DOG 2000

P 15

1999 total solar eclipse – effect of an information campaign

L. Speicher, W. Göttinger

Introduction: To evaluate the outcome and the frequency of solar retinopathy after an extensive information campaign regarding the use of certified protective filter eclipse viewers during the 1999 solar eclipse in a population of 600.000 inhabitants of Tyrol / Austria.

Methods: Five months before the 1999 total solar eclipse an extensive preventive mass media campaign was startet first by the University Eye Clinic of Innsbruck encouraging the use of protective filter eclipse viewers during solar eclipse observation. Eclipse viewers and filters were offered in our department. All patients which consulted the University Eye Clinic with visual impairment after solar eclipse observation underwent complete ophthalmological examination including fundus photography.

Results: Characteristic solar retinopathy could be diagnosed in only four cases of a total of 65 patients which presented with ocular symptoms one hour to seven days after the eclipse. In two of the former characteristic grayish spots could be seen in the fovea and in one patient a pseudomacular hole was observed. The majority of all other patients had only mild signs of keratoconjunctivitis probably due to increased temperature under the protective filter eclipse viewers.

Conclusions: Since excellent certified filter solar eclipse viewers constructed of two layers of aluminised polyester film are available it was of particular importance that the population has been extensively informed to wear these optical filters during the 1999 total solar eclipse which resulted in a significant reduction of permanent eyesight damage in comparison with previous solar eclipses. The incidence of 1999 eclipse solar retinopathy was 0.001 promille in Tyrol.

Univ.-Klinik für Augenheilkunde und Optometrie Innsbruck, Anichstraße 35, A – 6020 Innsbruck