Solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st! You can protect your eyes from eye damage, including corneal burns and future eye disease such as macular degeneration. Whether your geographical location will have a partial or total solar eclipse, you need to protect yourself from eye damage. Find out why, and which solar eclipse viewing glasses will protect your vision from damage.
How a Solar Eclipse Can Damage the Eyes
We are warned to never look directly at the sun. The only “safe” time to look at the sun during a total eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun (still wear solar sunglasses). Darkness falls for less than 3 minutes, and the dangerous light returns suddenly.
The sun emits UV light that can cause a “sunburn” on the cornea, the outer surface of the eye. If you view an eclipse without protection, you may not notice it right away; but you might wake up the next day unable to see. Damage can be temporary or permanent.
The sun’s light also contains blue light. Natural Eye Care has multiple research-based articles about the danger of excessive blue light. Damage is cumulative. A large exposure, especially in childhood, can contribute to future eye disease such as macular degeneration.
How to Prevent Solar Eclipse Eye Damage
The only defense for eclipse watchers is eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers. These inexpensive glasses usually have cardboard frames. They are very, very dark, safely blocking out harmful solar radiation during an eclipse. Do not use eclipse viewing glasses that are more than three years old, or that have wrinkled or scratched lenses. Avoid home-made devices.
Sham eclipse glasses have been popping up. Make sure the glasses say “ISO 12312-2 international standard”. They should also have the manufacturer’s name and address. Safe brands include American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17, according to the American Astronomical Society.
Do not rely on regular sunglasses or prescription sunglasses, no matter how dark they are. They allow thousands of times too much light, and they will not safely protect your eyes.
You can find solar eclipse viewing glasses at stores such as Lowe’s, REI, and Walmart.
NASA will be livestreaming the eclipse in an informative program. You can see the high quality livestream from the NASA site via NASA TV or NASA Edge. It’s a four hour show streaming from 12 locations across the country from 12:00/11:45 to 4:00/4:15.
The NASA site has more information on the eclipse and coverage.