The Sun Is In Your Eyes

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In the run-up to Monday’s total eclipse of the sun, almost all of us have heard warnings not to look at the sun without special dark glasses made especially for viewing it. We’ve probably also heard that it’s okay to look at the fully eclipsed sun during totality.

Why is it that the sun, often fully exposed in the daytime sky, now suddenly, requires special glasses to look at?

The truth seems to be that it’s never okay to look at the sun. A lengthy look directly at the light giving orb will damage our eyes, but there’s usually no reason to do so.

Through evolution our eyes have developed amazing capabilities to see detail and colors in the daytime, yet still make out shapes in very low light. While providing no sense of color, those low-light sensors are very important, or at least were, in human societies not too long ago, before the advent of gas and now electric light.

Thankfully, a direct look at the sun causes an unpleasant sensation almost immediately. That almost always makes us turn from the light.

During an eclipse the temptation is strong to look more carefully in an attempt to view the line between the moon’s shadow and the sun’s brilliance, or to see the crescent shape of the partially eclipse eun.

Those dark eclipse viewing glasses don’t detract from the eclipse viewing experience and protect our eyes from our own irresistible urge to see such a spectacle.

Disabused of “Drug Abuse,” It’s Now “Drug Use” for This Editor

I used the term “drug abuse,” and an associated term, “drug abuse disorder” in my editorial last week. It didn’t take long for a few comments and conversations to make me aware that the word “abuse” is now avoided by professionals involved in working with those dealing with drug use in all its forms.

While “drug abuse” once mostly referred to more serious drug use, it’s now seen as stigmatizing.

Some have said that drug use should be stigmatized because of the harm it can cause to users of excessive drugs, their families, their friends, and the communities they are part of. Some may say, “get them off the streets, penalize them, lock them up and stigmatize them so they feel as bad as we can make them feel.”

Looking at the problem from the perspective of the drug user, and those trying to help them, shows us a different picture. If the most effective solution to excessive drug use is to help people step away from the habit, making them feel badly about themselves is unlikely to help.

More likely, it will add another layer of problem issues to an already difficult condition to treat.

So, the terms “drug use” and “drug use disorder” will replace those other two in my vocabulary.

Thank you to Healthy Lamoille Valley and The Center for an Agricultural Economy for helping to educate me about this issue, and hopefully by association, you too.

Paul Fixx, editor

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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