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Eye Protection: How To Watch The Epic Total Solar Eclipse Safely

red planet in sky

If you haven’t heard about the total solar eclipse predicted to occur on August 21, 2017, in the US, mark your calendars now! Many Canadians will be no doubt traveling across the border for this event (courtesy of the universe)! But, before you plan on enjoying the eclipse you must know how to protect your eyes. Looking at the eclipse with no eye protection can cause serious irreversible eye damage. So learn how to watch the epic total solar eclipse safely in this week’s blog post. Happy reading!

All right so we know there is going to be a total solar eclipse next month, and it is something many will want to see. But, why do you need to care about protecting your eyes? During an eclipse, the moon covers the sun completely, which is referred to as “totality”. Space.com explains what viewers will see during this time:

“During totality, the area inside the moon’s shadow is cloaked in twilight — a very strange feeling to experience in the middle of the day. Just before and just after totality, observers can see this cloak of darkness moving toward them across the landscape, and then moving away.”

Pretty darn cool! However, viewers should be aware that looking at the sun with a naked eye is never okay. And so eye protection is a must. This is because the sun emits damaging ultraviolet rays. On a regular day looking at the sun is uncomfortable and we have a natural tendency to squint or look away. However, the shadow that accompanies an eclipse can cancel out our natural tendencies to protect our eyes. Ultimately exposes the retina to damage. Many people may not even know that their eyes have sustained long term damage because no pain is associated with it. Yikes! The best approach is to be proactive so let’s talk about the how next.


Eye Protection During A Solar Eclipse

“Can’t I just wear my sunglasses?” The short answer is, no. This will not give you adequate protection. Instead, solar viewing glasses are recommended, which are made to be much darker and of a different material than sunglasses. Nasa has set out the following guidelines on their website:

  • Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
  • Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
  • Not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses
  • Not use homemade filters or be substituted for with ordinary sunglasses — not even very dark ones — because they are not safe for looking directly at the Sun

I am certainly looking forward to August 21st, and hope you are too! Remember to keep your peepers safe!

Dr. Sharma 


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