Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?

Started Mar 18, 2010 | Discussions
rich66
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Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
Mar 18, 2010

Hi all

I was on a train yesterday going through the mountains in Switzerland and while I was waiting for the right moment to take a photo I saw the sun come into view in the viewfinder (the train turned a corner). My natural reaction seemed to be to look at the sun and then move my eye away from the camera as soon as I could (perhaps after 0.75 seconds). Should I be worried about eye damage?

This was just before 5pm but the sun was still quite high in the sky. My 18-55mm lens on a Nikon D40 was set to 24mm and I had no filters on the lens. The sun didn't seem too bright in the viewfinder and I noticed no after effects at the time or in the 29 hours since. The train window was closed and I was wearing prescription (clear) glasses (supposedly with 99% UV protection).

I would appreciate any opinions. I normally try to avoid the sun at all costs so I am annoyed that this happened. I understand that brief glances at the sun with the naked eye should be OK although not something to make a habit of, but I was wondering about the fact that the viewfinder of a camera would concentrate the sun's rays onto a small area.

Thanks in advance!

hotdog321
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to rich66, Mar 18, 2010

I'm pretty sure there is no problem. If such a brief exposure to naked sunlight was that dangerous, we would all be blind. I'm not sure how much difference the viewfinder makes, but the wide angle should actually show a much smaller image of the sun. I've dazzled myself a few times lining up solar eclipse shots and was fine.

Now, if you started staring though a 1000 mm lens . . .

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OSAM
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to rich66, Mar 18, 2010

you'd have to be taking shots of an eclipse. With a high-power lens. And it would hurt.

you'll be fine

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rich66
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to rich66, Mar 20, 2010

Thanks very much both of you for your replies. I feel reassured now!

Richard

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VO2Max
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to rich66, Mar 20, 2010

Do not try this with and astronomical telescope though, you'll fry your eye!!!

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Graystar
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to VO2Max, Mar 20, 2010

VO2Max wrote:

Do not try this with and astronomical telescope though, you'll fry your eye!!!

From the stories I've read, you'll notice smoke rising from your telescope before you ever get that far!

It is my understanding that looking directly at the Sun is not enough to cause damage to your eyes. The lenses of your eyes simply aren't collecting that much light. So any lens that gives you a 1:1 view (the ol' 50mm debate) or smaller is probably fine. Any lens longer is cause for concern.

It is also my understanding that you can cause some damage by going from dark or normal illumination to direct sunlight...but it's because of a chemical reaction to the UV.

.

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VO2Max
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to Graystar, Mar 21, 2010

Telescopes do not smoke, what are you talking about. As a kid, I've been burning pretty musch anything using my telescope. When I say frying your eye, I totally mean it. Do not ever think about trying that.

In a SLR, the image you look at is projected onto a surface. This may reduce the danger for your eye.

BUT I SAY AGAIN, NEVER DO THAT WITH A TELESCOPE

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Graystar
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to VO2Max, Mar 21, 2010

VO2Max wrote:

Telescopes do not smoke, what are you talking about. As a kid, I've been burning pretty musch anything using my telescope.

I'm talking about real telescopes...not kids telescopes. If you go to an astronomy forum, such as CloudyNights, you can find stories of people who accidentally ended up pointing their telescopes at the sun. When you have a 6 to 10 inch mirror collecting sunlight, lens coatings on eyepiece lenses melt and burn, and lenses end up cracking from the heat.

.

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Berghof
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don't worry
In reply to rich66, Mar 21, 2010

don't worry,the creator had surely in mind these types of moments when you unintentionally look directly into the sunshine and surely he design the eye to deal with such a brief eye to sun contact,it's just like falling into very cold water,if you get out quickly enough, no harm is done
--
Berghof G.C.

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VO2Max
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to Graystar, Mar 21, 2010

Hey, I've got a 10 inches Meade Lightbridge. Ah nevermind. Look thrue your telescope, burn your eye. It'll be what we call natural selection.

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Graystar
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to VO2Max, Mar 22, 2010

VO2Max wrote:

Hey, I've got a 10 inches Meade Lightbridge. Ah nevermind. Look thrue your telescope, burn your eye. It'll be what we call natural selection.

What an utterly crass and hollow comment.

.

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doctor digi
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to hotdog321, Mar 22, 2010

hotdog321 wrote:

Now, if you started staring though a 1000 mm lens . . .

Actually the eye is quite resilient.

When I was young I had a small telescope and was trying to find Venus in the day. I did stand in the shadow of a building... but not quite enough. With a 40x eyepiece on the sun moved swiftly through the field of view as I waved my 'scope around.

It was... an experience It felt like being smacked in the head with a cricket bat. I was unable to see in one eye for about 15 minutes, but no damage was done.

However, I wouldn't advise trying this. My exposure was very brief and I was lucky.

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Laurie Strachan
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Re: don't worry
In reply to Berghof, Mar 23, 2010

Berghof wrote:

don't worry,the creator had surely in mind these types of moments when you unintentionally look directly into the sunshine and surely he design the eye to deal with such a brief eye to sun contact,it's just like falling into very cold water,if you get out quickly enough, no harm is done
--
Berghof G.C.

What do you suppose "the creator" had in mind when he allowed hundreds of thousands of people to be caught "unintentionally" in an earthquake and crushed to death?
--
Laurie Strachan

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Daniel Lee Taylor
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Getting back to the original statement...
In reply to Graystar, Mar 23, 2010

Graystar wrote:

VO2Max wrote:

Do not try this with and astronomical telescope though, you'll fry your eye!!!

From the stories I've read, you'll notice smoke rising from your telescope before you ever get that far!

This is false. You can destroy your retina with brief exposure to the sun through a telescope or through binoculars. The same light that can burn a lens coating can burn your retina in a fraction of a second before the lens fails. Never, ever do it or allow it to happen by accident, period. Anyone who comes through such an accident unscathed is lucky. Your eyesight is too valuable to leave to chance or luck.

This is why telescope enthusiasts abhor sun filters that fit over the eyepiece. Those filters take all the heat of the concentrated light and if they crack the light can damage your eye before your pain reflex causes you to look away. Only sun filters which fit over the front of the telescope should be used as they won't heat up any more than anything else in direct sunlight.

It is my understanding that looking directly at the Sun is not enough to cause damage to your eyes.

It most certainly is, even with the unaided eye. That's why it's painful to look at the sun, so that you stop before your retina is damaged.

The lenses of your eyes simply aren't collecting that much light. So any lens that gives you a 1:1 view (the ol' 50mm debate) or smaller is probably fine. Any lens longer is cause for concern.

No lens is fine, though the time one can endure sun exposure through an UWA is certainly longer than the time one can endure it through a telephoto. Max aperture is also a consideration.

The OP is probably fine, but do not underestimate the potential for sun damage to the retina. I think about it and take precautions every time I shoot a sunrise or sunset.

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Daniel Lee Taylor
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Seriously off topic
In reply to Laurie Strachan, Mar 23, 2010

Laurie Strachan wrote:

Berghof wrote:

don't worry,the creator had surely in mind these types of moments when you unintentionally look directly into the sunshine and surely he design the eye to deal with such a brief eye to sun contact,it's just like falling into very cold water,if you get out quickly enough, no harm is done
--
Berghof G.C.

What do you suppose "the creator" had in mind when he allowed hundreds of thousands of people to be caught "unintentionally" in an earthquake and crushed to death?

If you seriously want to know, research and study the problem of evil. Every major religion addresses it, although they obviously have different ideas. (Note that I'm not saying the people who died were evil. The "problem of evil" is a study of why bad things happen in the world if the world was indeed created by God, ranging from evil acts to people dying in accidents.)

If you're not serious and were just hoping to attack the Berghof's beliefs, quit. I'm sure the forum doesn't need that BS any more than it needs someone attacking a person who makes the comment "evolution by natural selection made your eye resiliant."

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Graystar
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Re: Getting back to the original statement...
In reply to Daniel Lee Taylor, Mar 23, 2010

Daniel Lee Taylor wrote:

Graystar wrote:

VO2Max wrote:

Do not try this with and astronomical telescope though, you'll fry your eye!!!

From the stories I've read, you'll notice smoke rising from your telescope before you ever get that far!

This is false. You can destroy your retina with brief exposure to the sun through a telescope or through binoculars.

By "before you ever get that far" I meant before you ever get to look through the telescope.

It is my understanding that looking directly at the Sun is not enough to cause damage to your eyes.

It most certainly is, even with the unaided eye. That's why it's painful to look at the sun, so that you stop before your retina is damaged.

This page has a good explanation...

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2585/will-looking-directly-at-a-solar-eclipse-make-you-go-blind

So the sun can damage your eyes...but it takes more than just a quick look. You need 30 seconds of looking directly at the full sun to cause damage, and it will be due to chemical reactions, not burning...which is what i said.

.

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sherwoodpete
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Re: Seriously off topic
In reply to Daniel Lee Taylor, Mar 23, 2010

Daniel Lee Taylor wrote:

Laurie Strachan wrote:

Berghof wrote:

don't worry,the creator had surely in mind these types of moments when you unintentionally look directly into the sunshine and surely he design the eye to deal with such a brief eye to sun contact,it's just like falling into very cold water,if you get out quickly enough, no harm is done
--
Berghof G.C.

What do you suppose "the creator" had in mind when he allowed hundreds of thousands of people to be caught "unintentionally" in an earthquake and crushed to death?

If you seriously want to know, research and study the problem of evil. Every major religion addresses it, although they obviously have different ideas. (Note that I'm not saying the people who died were evil. The "problem of evil" is a study of why bad things happen in the world if the world was indeed created by God, ranging from evil acts to people dying in accidents.)

So why on earth did you raise the topic. Were you suggesting instead that the earthquake itself was "evil"? Seriously I can't believe this response is in any way helpful in solving the problems of earthquakes.

There are useful things which can be done, such as for example constructing buildings which can withstand earthquakes, or avoiding building in known danger zones.

Analysis of earthquakes shows that some locations separated by just a short distance are affected in very different ways, depending on the underlying geology. Surely such engineering or scientific studies will be far more helpful than pondering the imponderables.

Regards,
Peter

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G. Gray
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Re: Eye damage from sun in viewfinder accidentally?
In reply to rich66, Mar 23, 2010

FIRST, if you had any damage you would know it by now. SO, you are ok.
My advice, be more cautious in the future.
I give you two examples of things to stay away from.

A "better beamer" (flash extender) just pointed at the sun will start a fire on your flash attachement. Rather startling when it happens.

A welder flips his helmet down as he strikes an arc, sometimes he strikes the arc before the helmet comes down. If he does that enough he will lose vision in the center of his eye.
Be careful.

rich66 wrote:

Hi all

I was on a train yesterday going through the mountains in Switzerland and while I was waiting for the right moment to take a photo I saw the sun come into view in the viewfinder (the train turned a corner). My natural reaction seemed to be to look at the sun and then move my eye away from the camera as soon as I could (perhaps after 0.75 seconds). Should I be worried about eye damage?

This was just before 5pm but the sun was still quite high in the sky. My 18-55mm lens on a Nikon D40 was set to 24mm and I had no filters on the lens. The sun didn't seem too bright in the viewfinder and I noticed no after effects at the time or in the 29 hours since. The train window was closed and I was wearing prescription (clear) glasses (supposedly with 99% UV protection).

I would appreciate any opinions. I normally try to avoid the sun at all costs so I am annoyed that this happened. I understand that brief glances at the sun with the naked eye should be OK although not something to make a habit of, but I was wondering about the fact that the viewfinder of a camera would concentrate the sun's rays onto a small area.

Thanks in advance!

-- hide signature --

If you go into Home Depot and someone offers to help you and he is not an employee, you are in Canada

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Daniel Lee Taylor
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Re: Getting back to the original statement...
In reply to Graystar, Mar 23, 2010

Graystar wrote:

Daniel Lee Taylor wrote:

Graystar wrote:

VO2Max wrote:

Do not try this with and astronomical telescope though, you'll fry your eye!!!

From the stories I've read, you'll notice smoke rising from your telescope before you ever get that far!

This is false. You can destroy your retina with brief exposure to the sun through a telescope or through binoculars.

By "before you ever get that far" I meant before you ever get to look through the telescope.

Fair enough, but I wouldn't assume that in practice.

So the sun can damage your eyes...but it takes more than just a quick look.

Never said it didn't for the unaided eye. You'll most likely look away from pain before permanent damage occurs. But lens assisted eyes are a different story, whether that lens is a telescope or a telephoto.

You need 30 seconds of looking directly at the full sun to cause damage, and it will be due to chemical reactions, not burning...which is what i said.

Burning is a chemical reaction

More to the point, unaided the damage most likely comes first from UV, though heating cannot be ruled out. (You would be surprised at how little heat in the retina can cause damage. As I recall from a paper, the retina sacrifices some acuity to keep light sensitive cells closer to blood vessels for the cooling effect.) As you point out this takes some time, more than a quick glance. But through a lens heating could easily be the first and primary cause of damage. Your retina won't catch fire, but the heat absorbed drives the damaging chemical reactions.

I don't mean to pick on you or your post, I just want to make sure readers understand the dangers involved. It's a legitimate issue for photographers who often shoot sun rises and sunsets.

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Daniel Lee Taylor
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Re: Seriously off topic
In reply to sherwoodpete, Mar 23, 2010

sherwoodpete wrote:

Daniel Lee Taylor wrote:

Laurie Strachan wrote:

Berghof wrote:

don't worry,the creator had surely in mind these types of moments when you unintentionally look directly into the sunshine and surely he design the eye to deal with such a brief eye to sun contact,it's just like falling into very cold water,if you get out quickly enough, no harm is done
--
Berghof G.C.

What do you suppose "the creator" had in mind when he allowed hundreds of thousands of people to be caught "unintentionally" in an earthquake and crushed to death?

If you seriously want to know, research and study the problem of evil. Every major religion addresses it, although they obviously have different ideas. (Note that I'm not saying the people who died were evil. The "problem of evil" is a study of why bad things happen in the world if the world was indeed created by God, ranging from evil acts to people dying in accidents.)

So why on earth did you raise the topic.

Do me a favor. Re-read the series of posts and try to understand them better. Then recognize why your post was even MORE off topic. (Hint: Laurie wasn't fishing for a discussion of earthquake preparedness, but rather a fight about religion and God.)

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