Tips for Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tips for Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

A solar eclipse is one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights. By taking a minute to learn about solar eclipse eye safety precautions you can have a safe and memorable experience.

What is a Solar Eclipse?
On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun, or a “solar eclipse”. During a solar eclipse the moon will pass between the sun and the earth, actually blocking the sun either partially or completely depending on where you are viewing it from. This is a solar eclipse!  The blocking of the sun will last for up to three hours from beginning to end depending on your viewing location.  For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds.  The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979. This event turns day into night and makes the normally hidden solar corona-the sun’s outer atmosphere- visible! Bright stars and planets will become visible as well. This is one of nature’s most awesome sights. In the Portland, Maine area, we will have a partial eclipse, about 67%. The start time is 1:29 pm, the max eclipse is 2:45 pm and the end of the eclipse is 3:57 pm.

How Can You See It?
You never want to look directly at the sun without appropriate protection except during totalityBe aware of the risk that viewing a solar eclipse can present if you do not take the necessary eye safety precautions. Retinal burns, called “solar retinitis” or “solar retinopathy” can be produced by direct gazing at the sun. This rather serious problem is caused by the thermal effects of the visible and near infrared rays focused on the pigment structure behind the retina. We almost never see patients with solar retinopathy because the normal eye will tolerate only fleeting glances at the sun, but it can be fairly common during a solar eclipse.

However, there are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun including direct viewing, which requires some type of filtering device and indirect viewing where you project an image of the sun onto a screen.

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses”. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. To date four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime:
·        Always inspect your solar filter glasses before you use them. If they are scratched or damaged please discard them. 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 before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing 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. Please do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses because the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eyes and potentially causing serious injury. Also, you should seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.

For more information, you can visit Eclipse. You may also contact Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102, visit Eyecare Medical Group, Google+,  or on Facebook at