Fifty-five years ago, Lou Tomososki and his friend Roger Duval were excited to see the partial solar eclipse that they had heard about for weeks leading up to it. They knew it would be a spectacular sight to behold and were ready to have their minds blown at the wonder.

Instead of their minds being blown, they nearly got their eyes burned to blindness. They were advised to use a pinhole projector box, which creates a reflection that is safe for viewing, but it slipped their minds.

As they walked home from Marshall High School, the time came to see the spectacular phenomenon. They soon found out that the brightness is not the only thing they should have been concerned about.

Afterall, it’s the sun’s rays that kill your vision, frying your retinas in a matter of seconds. As they stared at the still radiant light show, Lou commented to his friend, “Oh. If you stare at it long enough, the brightness goes away!”

I, personally, cringed inside when I read that.

The friends didn’t really think anything of what they had just done until night fell. They saw spots in their vision like someone had taken their picture and they stared at the flash bulb going off.

Have you ever done that? You see residual shapes of the light temporarily imprinted on your eyes. For these two, it isn’t temporary.

Today, Leo is 70 and he still has a spot on his right eye. It’s as if the blurry spot people use to edit out a license plate on film is permanently stuck in the center of his vision, roughly the size of a pea. Roger has a similar spot on his left eye.

He is using his experience as a public service announcement to warn everyone planning to watch the full solar eclipse happening this coming Monday.

“Millions of people out there are going to be looking out at it… How many of them are going to say, ‘Something happened to my eyes?’ That makes me sick,” Leo said to Today.

Experts on this sort of thing say that the risk is especially high during an eclipse because the sun is blocked. This means that the light is not nearly as intense as normal, making it much more painless to stare at. People are led to believe that this means it’s safe to look at, then they find out the hard way they just destroyed their eyes for life.

If you stare directly at the sun, you give the sun’s harmful rays an unhindered, wide-open path to plunge straight for your retina. Within seconds, they fry your vision like a kid with a magnifying glass and a pile of leaves.

Just be careful folks! Get the proper gear, and have a blast next week!

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Article via: PEOPLE.COM