This year marks the first total solar eclipse in almost 40 years – in fact, there have been only 14 total solar eclipses in the last 100 years and only certain general locations were near a path to witness it. On August 21, 2017, the total solar eclipse will be visible throughout all of North America for about 2 minutes or longer, depending on your location. Dr. Manish Acharya would like to remind everyone who is participating in this event to wear the proper safety gear to protect your eyesight during the partial eclipse that takes place before and after the total coverage of the sun.
Looking directly at the sun at any time can cause permanent damage to your eyes. Damage can occur without pain and symptoms may not be noticeable right away. Looking at the sun during a partial eclipse can cause vision loss, altered color vision, distorted vision, and even permanent blindness.
The only way to look directly at the sun when it is not eclipsed or it is partially eclipsed is to view it through a special solar filter available as eclipse glasses or a handheld viewer. Goggles, homemade filters, or sunglasses will not protect your eyes, which includes viewing it through a smartphone, telescope, or an unfiltered camera. Eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers are inexpensive available at many retailers, however, it is important they meet the international safety standards set by NASA. Make sure your glasses are not scratched, wrinkled, or older than 3 years.
An alternative to a solar filters to make your own pinhole projector to safely view the eclipse. Be sure to follow the directions carefully and never look at the sun through the pinhole. Other alternate viewing methods are available here.
If you or a loved one views the solar eclipse without proper protection or if you think your eyesight has been altered after the event, seek immediate professional care from your optometrist. More information can be found on the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative website.