After much anticipation, the solar eclipse is just days away! We want you and your family to enjoy this special event while also being safe and protecting your eyes.
There is a lot of information out there about the eclipse, viewing the eclipse and other related information. As your vision benefits provider, we’re going to focus on a few solar eclipse facts and tips to make sure you keep your eyes protected.
Some of us are lucky to be in the direct path for total eclipse viewing. This is also called the path of totality. Depending on your location, your viewing instructions differ. See more information below.
Facts about viewing a solar eclipse
Total eclipse – If you’re in the path of totality, you will be able to see a total eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun, for about two to three minutes.
Eclipse blindness – Looking at the solar eclipse without eye protection can cause retinal burns, also called solar retinopathy or “eclipse blindness.”
Damage – If you expose your eyes to the sun without protection, it can cause permanent or temporary damage to the cells in your retina. Be aware it could take hours or days to realize you damaged your eyes.
Eye symptoms – Other symptoms you can experience if you view the eclipse without eye protection are distorted vision and altered color vision. Contact your eye care professional if you notice any of these symptoms.
Tips for viewing a solar eclipse
The American Astronomical Society listed useful instructions for viewing the eclipse. Here’s a summary:
Inspect – Check the condition of your solar filter; it should be free from any scratches and punctures. If there is any damage, don’t use it.
Follow instructions – Read and follow the instructions on your solar filter or on the package.
Supervise – Always supervise children using solar filters, whether using eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers.
Eyeglasses – If you wear eyeglasses, keep them on and put the eclipse glasses over them or use a handheld viewer in front of them.
Don’t remove filter or glasses – Before looking up at the sun, stand still and cover your eyes with eclipse glasses or a solar filter. After viewing, look away from the sun and then remove your glasses or filter. Don’t remove your eclipse glasses or solar filter while looking up at the sun. In other words, be mindful and cautious.
In path – If you’re lucky and can view the eclipse in the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon is covering the sun completely. You’ll be able to see a total solar eclipse for a short time, but as soon as the sun starts to reappear, make sure to use your eclipse glasses or solar filter for the rest of the time. It’s not safe to look at the sun without eye protection.
Outside of path – If you’re viewing outside the path of totality, use your safe solar filter during the entire event.
No cameras – It’s recommended to get expert advice if you want to use a camera or telescope during the solar eclipse. Do not look at the sun through a camera, telescope or other devices even while wearing eclipse glasses or using a solar filter.
Looking towards the sun or at the solar eclipse without eye protection can cause permanent damage to your vision. We want you to experience this exciting and unique event, but please be safe and protect your eyes. For any medical questions concerning your eyes and vision, please contact your eye doctor.
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