Leonard Bates was nine years old when he saw his first eclipse.

The 80 year old made his own viewer instead of using solar glasses.

"I didn't think it was necessary to buy smoked glass so I smoked some glass myself with a candle."

That decision cost him. 

Bates permanently lost some vision in his right eye.

"There was a spot right at the center of my right eye, my focus that was just a blur"

Millions of Americans are getting ready to view the next eclipse on august 21, but Dr. Russell van Gelder from the University of Washington School of Medicine warns blindness is a risk if you don't have proper eye protection.

'It's so dangerous for people to look at the sun even for brief periods of time because you can cause permanent damage to the retina,” he says. “We call it solar retinopathy and it's really very close to burning a hole in the retina."

The only one way to safely view a partial or total eclipse is with certified solar glasses – simple sunglasses are not enough.

The American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable eclipse glasses and handheld viewers on its website – stamped with the approval code 12312–2 code on glasses.

Another piece of advice from Dr. Van Gelder is when you're watching the eclipse with your children, be sure your kids have their eye protection on. It's very exciting for them and they may want to take the eye protection off.

You will also need to use solar filter on cameras, binoculars and telescopes and don't use eclipse glasses to look through them... The focused sunlight can melt the filter and damage the eyes.

Bates still has vision in his left eye.

He says this time around, he'll watch the eclipse on TV.

--- KEYC News 12