Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

Looking directly at the sun during most parts of an eclipse can permanently damage your vision or blind you. But there are easy ways to view a solar eclipse safely.

Protect Your Vision During the Eclipse

On Aug. 21, 2017, the entire United States will see a partial eclipse of the sun. Parts of 11 states will experience a total solar eclipse. If you get a chance to see it, make sure to take care of your vision during the eclipse.

 

Keep in mind that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun. The only time it is safe to look directly at the sun is when it is completely covered by the moon during the totality phase of an eclipse. You must protect your eyes during the rest of the eclipse or you could damage your retina, possibly causing blindness.

Areas outside the path of totality will have a partial eclipse. Only part of the sun is blocked even at the peak of the eclipse. In those areas, there is no safe time to look at the sun with the naked eye. You must protect your eyes while watching the entire eclipse. Don’t let the warnings scare you. There are safe ways to watch the eclipse.

There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not: through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.

GENEVA OPTICIANS IS SOLD OUT OF THE ECLIPSE GLASSES.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Astronomical Society have released these tips for safe eclipse viewing.

  • Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.
  • Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  • Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter—do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
  • Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.

For information about where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers, check out the American Astronomical Society.

NASA will have a live stream of the eclipse. Consider watching online or find an event at a local planetarium, science center or club where you know the right safety measures have been taken.

Information provided by: American Academy of Ophthalmology (www.aao.org) and NASA (www.NASA.gov).