It seems everybody in the path of the solar eclipse on August 21 is planning to take a peek, but there are precautions you need to take to view the eclipse safely without permanently damaging your eyes.
“To safely watch a partial solar eclipse, like we’ll have in Utah, you must have protective solar filter sunglasses that meet a specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2 certification,” says Intermountain Riverton Hospital ophthalmologist Lyndon Tyler, MD.
“If you view a partial eclipse without certified solar glasses, you could burn a hole in the back lining of your eye, or the retina,” he warns. “The front of your eye is basically a series of magnifying glasses that focuses light on the retina. Just like sunlight passing through a magnifying glass can burn a leaf, direct sunlight passing through the front of the eye can burn a permanent hole in your retina.”
“It’s very important to clearly and firmly explain these dangers to children,” he adds.
What happens if you watch an eclipse without protecting your eyes?
According to Dr. Tyler, the part of the eye that typically gets burned by the sun is right in the center of your vision because looking directly at the sun focuses all of its light at this location.
Typical symptoms of eclipse-related eye damage
- Blurry vision
- A blind spot right in the center of your vision
- Seeing a bend in things that should be straight (like telephone poles and doorways)
Symptoms may not be immediate. Visit your eye doctor if you think you may have damaged your eyes.
Proper eclipse-viewing glasses
Make sure eclipse-viewing glasses are certified, not damaged — and make sure you wear them properly.
- Lenses should be ISO 12312-2 certified.
- Make sure they haven’t been recalled by Amazon.com. The retailer has sent emails to customers who purchased recalled glasses.
- Check lenses for scratches or other damage.
- Regular eyeglasses, camera lenses, homemade filters, and very dark sunglasses are not sufficient to protect your eyes from sun damage.
- Be careful to make sure solar filter lenses are in place before you look at the sun, and make sure you look away from the sun before you remove the lenses.
More information: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/solar-eclipse-eye-safety
If you’re lucky enough to be in the “path of totality”
People who are in an area where the eclipse will be total or 100 percent can take off their eclipse glasses while the sun is completely covered by the moon, but should look away and put their glasses back on as soon as bright sun starts to appear. Nasa has a special website set up to illustrate the percentage of totality in your location.