Staring at the sun is bad for your eyes

21 September 2023
What was claimed

Staring at the sun won’t hurt your eyes.

Our verdict

Excessive exposure to sunlight can cause serious and irreversible damage including blindness, both from one off exposures and over time. It is not safe to stare at the sun.

A video on Facebook claims that staring at the sun will not damage your eyes. 

This is not true. Staring into the sun can cause serious and permanent damage, including blindness.

Bad health information can cause harm if people follow it. It can also undermine good quality information from public health authorities and medical professionals. We have written before about potentially dangerous false health claims on social media, including about sungazing and sun protection.

Honesty in public debate matters

You can help us take action – and get our regular free email

Origins of the video

The original video is from the street interview account NYCSpins, which has posted it on YouTube. The video has also appeared on TikTok where it has over 1,000,000 views.

The person staring at the sun in the video is Jason Itzler, who calls himself the “Worlds Greatest Sun Gazer”. He has featured in a number of videos in which he stares at the sun and makes similar claims. He also posts similar content on his Instagram and Facebook.

Will the sun hurt your eyes?

The interviewer asks “So staring at the sun cannot hurt your eyes or make you blind?” to which Mr Itzler replies “Everyone is brainwashed that the sun would hurt their eyes.”

Sungazing is a meditative practice that involves focussing on the sun and looking directly at it. However, this is not recommended by medical experts.

Excessive sun exposure without appropriate sunglasses, even if not staring directly at the sun, can cause irreversible blindness as well as increasing cataract risk.

Exposure over time, including sungazing every day which Mr Itzler claims to do, increases these risks.

Sungazing can cause immediate damage to the retina (the back of the eye). There are many case reports of eye damage happening after single episodes of deliberate sungazing.

Denise Voon (MCOptom), Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists previously told Full Fact: “Looking directly at the sun can cause solar burns so we strongly advise people not to look directly at the sun at any time of the day”.

We have contacted Mr Itzler but have not received a response at time of writing.

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.