View Wisely: The Great American Solar Eclipse on Monday

Please friends, do not risk your eye sight for a glimpse of the Great American Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21.

On this day it is predicted that millions of people will gaze at the sun to view the eclipse. Some may risk their eye sight to do so. Even during a solar eclipse the sun’s rays are so bright that they can burn your eyeballs. It may looks dark outside – certainly darker than it does on a typical day – but the damage that comes from looking directly at the sun is still there.

Eclipse

How To View the Eclipse Without the Risk

There is an excellent article at Space.com that discusses the risks of viewing the solar eclipse and also provides ideas for ways to participate safely.

The graphic below is from the Space.com article. It shows how you can make a pinhole projector if you don’t have reliable solar eclipse glasses. I remember making this projector as a child and it worked quite well.

Pinhole Projector

I ordered glasses from Amazon.com but am now hearing that many of the glasses are being recalled because they do not provide sufficient protection. Some retailers argue that their glasses are being recalled unfairly and that the recall will make everyone question the quality of the glasses they’ve purchased.

Optometrists believe the safest way to view the eclipse is on T.V. Below is a letter from an optometrists that has been shared a number of times on Facebook. I think it’s worth sharing here:

As an Optometrist , I want to express concern that I have about the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug 21. There are serious risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse directly, even with the use of solar filter glasses. Everyone should keep in mind if they or their children are considering this.

We have to keep in mind that some people will encounter the inability to control every aspect of this exercise. For instance, true solar eclipse glasses are made for adults, do not fit children well and should not be used without direct parental supervision. If the solar glasses do not filter out 100% of the harmful UV rays, if they are not used absolutely perfectly, or should there be a manufacturing defect in any of them, this will result in permanent and irreversible vision loss for any eye exposed.

Just like sunburn to the skin, the effects are not felt or noticed immediately. I have a great fear that I will have patients in my office on Tuesday, Aug 22 who woke up with hazy, blurry vision that I cannot fix. It is a huge risk to watch the eclipse even with the use of solar glasses. There is no absolutely safe way to do so other than on TV.

The biggest danger with children is ensuring proper use without direct parental supervision. As the eclipse passes over many places, including Columbus, the moon will not block 100% of the sun. Because so much of its light is blocked by the moon, if one looks at it without full protection, it does not cause pain as looking at the sun does on a regular day. Normally if you try to look at the sun, it physically hurts and you can’t see anything.

During an eclipse, however, it is easier to stare for a bit….and even less than 30 seconds of exposure to a partially eclipsed sun, you can burn a blind spot right to your most precious central vision. With solar glasses you can’t see ANYTHING except the crescent of light of the sun. Kids could have a tendency to want to peak around the filter to see what is actually going on up there. One failure, just one, where education and supervision fail, will have such a devastating consequence.

Please, please be safe. Watch it on television.

PS Feel free to share this post.

Michael Schecter

Have a healthy day.

Thanks for sharing!