Then Again, Maybe Don’t Watch the Eclipse
The big day is here! The once-in-a-lifetime Solar Eclipse. But then there’s this: Experts really can’t stress enough how much you absolutely shouldn’t look at this today’s eclipse without proper eye protection – and maybe not even then. Ohio optometrist Michael Schecter says, “There are serious risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse directly, even when using solar filter glasses. The big problem is that the moon covers enough of the sun to allow it to be viewed without pain, tricking people into thinking it isn’t doing harm. And NASA warns that eclipse glasses that filter out 100% of harmful rays still need to be used perfectly – for example, by not peeking over the top of them. Just a few seconds of looking at a solar eclipse can do lasting damage. In a recent Florida case, a 12-year-old girl taken to the emergency room with blurry vision after she spent a minute looking directly at the sun. She suffered solar retinopathy, which is what happens when extremely bright light creates molecules that kill cells in the retina, creating blurry vision and blind spots. There is no treatment for solar retinopathy, and while vision can improve, it will rarely return to “normal.” In this case, the girl’s vision never improved. The risk of looking at an eclipse is the same as staring at the sun. And Quartz warns that researchers find young males are the most likely to damage their eyes while looking at an eclipse. Here are some safety tips from NASA:
- Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
- Always supervise children using solar filters.
- Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
- Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer – the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
- Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
- If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.
- Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly. If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them. (USA Today; NASA)